ONGC Videsh's top official in trouble as junior alleges sexual harassment

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ONGC Videsh's top official in trouble as junior alleges sexual harassment

The 31-year-old in her complaint to the police has alleged inappropriate touching and unreasonable demands by the male colleague.

An employee of ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of the government-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, has accused her immediate superior of sexual misconduct and harassment.

The 31-year-old in her complaint to the police has alleged inappropriate touching and unreasonable demands by the male colleague and says he burdened her with an excessive workload that was ruining her health.

The company has set up an internal committee to investigate the complaint. Speaking to Mail Today, the accused, Shashi Bhushan Singh, said he was unaware of the contents of the FIR, but admitted to having a complaint against him which the panel is probing. "I have filed my detailed reply to the committee," he said, while expressing his inability to provide further information as he was travelling.

The woman, a company secretary in the Capital, has alleged that her senior would touch her inappropriately when she pulled out files from the almirah or the table. She said he would force her to work on his desktop and used the opportunity to leer at her. She also alleged that he would make her listen to obscene and personal conversations with his wife. "When I tried to leave his cabin, he pointed his finger at me and instructed me to sit in his cabin, leaving me in an unbearable and uncomfortable situation," the complaint said.

A survey report on sexual harassment at workplace by the Indian National Bar Association that came out this year revealed that demands for sexual favours, inappropriate touches and lewd comments still continue to afflict offices in the country, with the national Capital being the most undesirable city for female workers. Of the 6,092 case studied in the survey, Delhi reported the highest number of victims, 63 percent, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru. The findings also indicated that workplace harassment was the highest in the IT field, followed by the education, media and legal sectors.

Cops have booked Singh for sexual harassment and "using word and gesture intended to insult the modesty of the woman". The woman also claims that two days after she filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and ONGC's SC/ST employee welfare association, the company transferred her to a different department. When she sought answers, she was allegedly told that it was done on the directives of her senior.

"As a superior, the accused took advantage of his position and created an environment of terror, fear and humiliation in the office," she said in the complaint. "This act of the authority discourages a woman to take any action in future against the wrongdoer in the organisation because she would get transferred and the accused would be in the same position."

The woman told the police that Singh would call her 5-10 minutes before closing time because of which she often missed her office bus to go back home. "My boss made me sit till 8pm without a reason and when I requested him to let me go home as it would be difficult to find conveyance, he would shout and often send me with some other male colleague," she alleged.

Not just this: the woman said the accused would make her stand in his cabin for hours without any reason. "He would do as a silent punishment in situations where I had taken leave for personal reasons. He would threaten to make me work all night in the office and if I do not complete time-taking assignments within an hour or a day," said the victim.

The woman alleged that her senior's conduct had left a scar on her dignity and made it difficult for her to focus on her family responsibilities.

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