On Wednesday, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against Suparn Pandey, the co-founder of ScoopWhoop, after a complaint of sexual harassment was filed against him.
This is just the latest in a slew of sexual harassment allegations surfacing against top-bosses in new-age media set-ups.
Hours after initial reports of the allegations came out, ScoopWhoop responded, saying they “are extending full cooperation to the police to conduct a full and fair investigation into the matter.”
FIR Paints a Sordid Image of ScoopWhoop Management
The FIR, filed by a former senior employee at ScoopWhoop, accused Pandey of sexually harassing her for two years, between 2015-2017. It also named other co-founders Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar of abetting harassment, and even attempting to sweep it under the rug, as Catch News reported.
The FIR has been filed under section 354A (assault or use Criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and section 506 (criminal intimidation).
The fun and progressive environment that ScoopWhoop projects has been debunked by the FIR, which paints a much more sordid image.
It’s an organisation with the feminist publication Vagabomb on one hand, and no clear sexual harassment redressal on the other. The co-founders collaborate with one another to cover up each other’s misdeeds, even at the cost of their employees.
In the FIR, the complainant alleges that the harassment began with “inappropriate comments and lewd remarks” by Pandey at work. At one instance, the FIR states that Pandey even commented on the complainant’s sexuality.
Complainant in the FIRMr Suparn Pandey, in public, commented on my sexuality, and this comment included calling me names which reflected on my sexual orientation and my sexual preferences, and even characterised me in a certain way.
The complainant had raised the issue with Sriparna Tikekar, a co-founder of the company, who initially assured that repetition of such behaviour would not happen, but no action was taken against Pandey.
While the complainant steered clear of Pandey, the company’s inaction, according to her, only emboldened him. The FIR states that he would get too close for comfort and even tried to play with the complainant’s hair. He also allegedly sent her lewd videos on the company’s official Gmail chat.
Complainant in the FIRMr Pandey got so bold as to send me a lewd video over the official Gmail chat, in which the words were “aapnu jeans dheeli karo”.
The FIR states that the complainant never stopped taking up the issue with the co-founders, but to no avail. While Pandey got away scot-free, the complainant had to deal with the repercussions with Mishra and Tikekar publicly humiliating her, driving home the message that she “had no authority in this situation”.
Mishra and Tikekar also allegedly allowed Pandey to show up to work drunk, wherein he tried to inappropriately touch the complainant. However, these distasteful incidents only made her quit the company.
Mr Pandey approached me after the meeting, between 8-9:30 pm, when I was alone at my work desk, and asked me to be less “aggressive” in my dealings with other people and learn to “pour some sugar on it.” Then after that, he then got up, kissed my forehead and walked away.
She alleges that she continued to reach out to the other two founders, but they were not helpful in the least. Yet, she was still put in multiple situations where she was forced to work in close quarters with Pandey, much to her discomfort.
When she tried lodging a formal complaint, she was dissuaded from doing so and was even intimidated by the co-founders of the company, who threatened defamation and damaging her career, following which she resigned.
At least two ScoopWhoop employees, who The Quint reached out to, refused to comment on the matter. The Quint also spoke to the police about the FIR who said that the FIR was filed by the complainant on 28 March, but it is not available on the website, given its sensitive nature. Usually, the FIRs filed under Section 354 are not shared publicly.
The Quint reached out to ScoopWhoop to get their official stance on the matter. The company said,
“ScoopWhoop strongly condemns any kind of harassment at the workplace. We work towards ensuring a safe and secure workplace for all our employees and take any complaints of harassment extremely seriously. In line with workplace laws, ScoopWhoop has an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC constitutes of three of our most senior and experienced women employees and an independent observer who has served on ICC panels across various prestigious and international companies. 40 percent of our workforce is women and we have equal representation in senior leadership positions. We have taken every step to ensure the complainant gets a fair hearing and are following the rule book on workplace harassment. The complaint was forwarded to the ICC immediately on receipt and the same is being inquired as per law. The company is adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Hon. Supreme Court of India and the law of the land against sexual harassment at workplace and the investigation is ongoing. As an FIR has also been filed separately by the complainant, and the police investigation is ongoing, we are extending full cooperation to the police to conduct a full and fair investigation into the matter. We are fully prepared to accept the findings of the investigations and dutifully take the necessary action if found guilty.”
(This is a developing story and will be updated further)
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