Dr Rina Mukherji wins case of sexual harassment against ‘The Statesman’ after 10 years #Vaw #Justice


The Cost of Justice

February 13, 2013 News, feministindia.com
Rina Mukherji-1In 2002, Dr Rina Mukherji, then a senior reporter working for The Statesman complained of sexual harassment against Ishan Joshi, the news coordinator for the paper. On October 12, 2002, she was fired from her job.

Dr. Mukherji, then approached Network of Women in Media in India (NWMI) , the West Bengal Commission for Women and the Labour Commissioner. The Statesman refused conciliation proceedings and the labour suit moved to the Industrial Tribunal against the management of The Statesman . Ten years later, on February 6, 2013, the Court ruled in her favour. Rina Mukherji recounts her struggle for justice in this first person account

A full decade. That is the amount of time I have taken to win justice. More than three years of the period was lost due to vacant courts bereft of judges or stalling of proceedings on various pretexts by lawyers from the opposing side.

I was lucky to have been supported by many in the profession, as also outside it. Professor Jashodhara Bagchi, the then Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women, went through a harrowing time trying to settle the dispute with The Statesman. Her experience, though, exposed the flaws in the system and led us to realize that the Commission lacked “teeth.” We also realized that an employer could easily upstage a complainant by dragging a dispute to court, and with the judicial system we have, a matter would drag on for years. In the meanwhile, a complainant loses precious years of professional life, and is blacklisted by employers.

Even if you land up a full-time job with an employer who is extremely supportive of your plight, it is difficult to work when you have to keep shunting between courts for months (and years) together. In my case, I had a labour suit to attend in Kolkata, and two libel suits-one civil and the other criminal with the latter in Delhi, to attend to. I was left with no option but to freelance, notwithstanding the regular drain on my resources.

One of the worst problems when you have a complaint of sexual harassment at the workplace-is that no lawyer is willing to take up the case. They are apprehensive of losing the case, since they lack experience in such matters. (This again, is because of the deafening silence on such issues in a patriarchal society, which manifests itself in women keeping away from reporting on them). In my case, it was a media house, and hence even scarier! If not for Ms. Sutapa Chakrabarty of the Human Rights Law Network, (HRLN), an NGO providing legal aid to those who suffer a breach of their human rights, I might have had to plead my case myself.

There is another point I wish to make about those who swear by the names of celebrated legal luminaries. The lawyers at HRLN who fought my case were young and bright; and most of all, committed. Shamit Sanyal, Debashis Banerjee and his wife, Rajashri Banerjee, and Ambalika Roy brought a degree of commitment that is undeniable.

In fact, Debashis Banerjee worked hard to put forth the winning arguments that ultimately decided the case in my favour and got me an award from the Industrial tribunal granting my reinstatement and full back wages from the time of my termination by the management of The Statesman. And this was –to quote him- the “first case he had taken up as an advocate.”

The police, even if they be sympathetic and helpful, are utterly confused about how to deal with a white-collar offender. Eve-teasing or molestation by roadside miscreants is easy for them to deal with. But an educated man who is highly-placed in an organization can refuse to co-operate with the police investigation and easily get away with it due to loopholes in the legal system.

The Vishakha Guidelines were formulated with the best of intentions. But sexual harassment complaints committees in organizations are, more often than not, a total farce since the Guidelines presuppose organizations to be fair in bringing offenders to justice when a complaint is made to them. In my case, there was no such committee at The Statesman during my tenure. The pressure put in by Network of Women in Media in India ( NWMI), had my ex-employers hurriedly set up their committee.

My complaint, however, was never investigated into. Even as they refused to take cognizance of my complaint, The Statesman actually promoted the offender to a higher position.

One only hopes women will have a better deal once the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill becomes an Act in the near future.

The industrial tribunal has awarded me reinstatement and full back wages from the time I was terminated in October 2002 on the ground that it was illegal. However, the libel suits-filed against me by The Statesman and Ishan Joshi for having tarnished their reputation are yet to be decided. I still have a long way to go for a full victory.

Rina Mukherji is a senior journalist currently based in Kolkata. She has worked for over two decades in the print and online media specializing in issues related to sustainable development, the environment and human rights . She is the recipient of the 2011-2012 Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity ( Eastern Region) and several international fellowships for reporting on science, the environment and public health

38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jacqueline colaco
    Feb 16, 2013 @ 19:27:08

    http://www.petalsinthedust.com is hopeful of change in future….

    Reply

    • HASAN ABBAS ZAIDY
      Feb 22, 2014 @ 14:35:00

      Realy, Madam you are true roll model for all in society who keeps quit after seeing lot of irregularities around them.People can inspire from your act.You have shown an example of courage .I can observe clearly in the country slowly slowly people are gathering together against corruption and sexual harassment of the Women in working place.Your act will definitely boost the flame.You are a true Hero of real life not reel (Film) life. I salute you.Thanks to crime petrol to bring your story forward to public in a fantastic way that bring tears in the eye of audience.

      Reply

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  7. Ashish
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 00:55:04

    I think that this is the case now being shown in Crime Patrol on Sony TV, on the 26th and 27th of April 2013.

    Reply

  8. Shiva Shankar
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 00:10:08

    It really speaks a lot about our social justice and crimanl justice system in place to date. One is left to wonder the fate of many persons who might not have the will, resolve, support, education to fight against such incidents, especially when the outcome can take such a long time, almost a decade in this case. If an acclaimed journalist is made to face such an horrible situation, how will the ordinary people be able to win?
    I really salute Dr Rina for standing up and fighting for her moral rights.

    Reply

  9. dazzling
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 00:18:46

    Great display of courage to fight for so long…I watched in crime patrol…and wish you success in the other two libel suits…filed by Ishan Joshi and Stateman. They cannot go away easily and I think now you should file a case against statesman management and Ishan Joshi and ask for compensation due to mental trauma which you and your family faced.

    Reply

  10. Sachin
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 00:29:36

    First of all thanks to Crime Patrol for showing Dr. Rina’s case… so impressive & with each and every details .

    Dr. Rina we salute you , your family & other members who supported you for the truth and justice.
    You are very confident , courageous women & real role model.

    Reply

  11. Sita
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 06:56:18

    We are proud of you Dr. Mukherji for your struggle, committement, inspiration for your dignity. You have set an example for women force who don’t fight for justice & put up with harassment. Your patience & perseverance is is an encouragement for today’s woman. Salute you for showing us the path to fight against injustice, discrimination & also for having an attitude of “NEVER GIVE UP’. We are thankful to Crime Patrol for getting us introduce to role model like Dr. Mukherji.

    Reply

  12. S.Chatterjee
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 20:06:12

    At the onset we are thankful to crime patrol to show us an exact replica of a case which makes us salute Dr Rina Mukherjee for her strength, her perseverence, to fight to the end.
    We are shocked and ashamed at the behaviour of businouss houses.
    We also suggest that Dr Mukherjee should now file a litigation for getting compensation for the physical and mental trauma that has been caused to her, and the loss of financial returns from her profession during this battle of 10 years.

    Reply

  13. Nupur
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 04:15:05

    So extremely was I moved by Sony’s depiction of (I suppose) this case that I set out to search for it. I hope that Dr. Mukerji wins her case of libel and Joshi is brought to task. This speaks volumes about her guts and perseverence.

    Reply

  14. saurjya
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 09:52:42

    simply stunning……

    Reply

  15. Trackback: A woman who took on the high and mighty against sexual harassment! | Rachna Says
  16. Mina Fernandes
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 13:38:48

    My sister forced me to see the episode of crime petrol bcos it related to my case and that i could get some hints from it. there were tears in my eye, bcos you laid a path for me as my case is similar. half my struggle seems to be won. it took me 3 hrs yesterday just to get to know and be sure it was your case that they highlighted. Rina , hats off to you and thanks for boosting my self respect that i should not give up come what may. my case is 2 and half yrs old, but yet my foundation is not firm as the chairman of the NCW is not co-operative.Anyways thanks, i have already thanked the crime petrol team yesterday, This thanks comes to you from Mina (Names sounds rhyming) sure to win my case lets hope it reduces by some years as i will be stealing your judgement to attach to my case. God bless

    Reply

  17. latha
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 21:42:25

    Yayyyyy!!!!! I am sooooo happy for her. I am also very happy that she is paid her wages. A very hearty congratulations to Rina and the whole team who fought with her….I wish many women take inspiration from this and not give up till they see victory.

    Reply

  18. Mrityunjoy Chattopadhyay
    May 01, 2013 @ 14:11:26

    Congratulations Dr. Rina. We salute you for your patience. I am not very sure if it would be The Statesman or our judicial system responsible for the loooooooong delay in justice and hence causing all mental trauma and loss. Can’t somebody file a case against the court itself for delaying it deliberately. Would be interesting to see how a court reacts to such a truth but never accept it. A very sorry justice system – justice delayed is justice denied. Period !!!

    Reply

  19. Rina Mukherji
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 18:42:51

    A big THANK YOU to all the people who have congratulated me here. I would like to add one little bit of information, Winning at the Tribunal is no guarantee that you are paid the compensation mentioned. Getting reinstated and getting your dues is another long haul. Our justice delivery system is so woefully inadequate that this must be pursued not just by me, but the state labour department too. So much for a victory!

    Reply

    • George Riju
      Jun 28, 2013 @ 16:46:32

      Thanks to Crime Patrol which indeed documents in a more easier way than it really seems.
      One wonders when we all actually know the truth still we all act the other way except the person
      who suffers who always seems all alone …….still people like Rina make a difference in so many
      lives

      Reply

    • Prasenjit Chakraborty
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 23:50:30

      Mam, pl. give ur mob. no. and mail ID. I am a journalist and fighting almost alone in a labor case. The opponent is a big political leader.

      Reply

    • Vipul Mittal
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 13:32:28

      Congratulations Ma’am for winning the long long battle. But truth never gets suppressed. We are also working to fight workplace harassment. Our website is http://www.myhonor.in. We value your feedback and would really appreciate if you can share your experiences on our website. It will be a big boost to those who keep on suffering and remain mum. I have sent you a message through my FB account. Pls check and revert. Kind regards, Vipul

      Reply

    • Rajesh Mishra
      Nov 12, 2013 @ 16:51:22

      Dear Rina,

      Plz share your contact. I would like to speak to you. Need some help.

      Rajesh

      Reply

    • Anupriya
      Jun 12, 2015 @ 20:07:27

      Hello Ma’am,

      I have read your story and find your fight with injustice extremely inspiring. I creatively head a show for Doordarshan called Stree Shakti which discusses the lives and stories of some women in our country who have faced grave injustice or harsh conditions but have, through some extraordinary will power and determination changed their own lives and have given hope and inspiration to many other out there.

      One of our forthcoming episodes is related to sexual harassment that women face but do not talk about it due to pressures from society.

      It would be an honour for us to have you on the show and discuss with us your story and your fight with the wrong systems in our country.

      Please feel free to connect with me and looking forward to meeting you soon. Please share your contact number so we can be in touch regarding this.

      Best Regards

      Reply

  20. Anita
    Oct 06, 2013 @ 18:17:47

    I have been through something similar, but was young and had no support system of any sort. I know the pain and the strength of will it takes to move ahead. You are a lioness and an inspiration to many. God bless.

    Reply

  21. Prasenjit Chakraborty
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 23:40:08

    I am a journalist and have been fighting for justice against illegal termination of 26 employees by the authority of NE Bangla satellite TV channel in Agartala. NE Bangla is owned by ex central minister Matang Sinh, so none has come out in my support. As the employees representative I am appearing in the Court. So I can understand how much pain she has experienced.
    Prasenjit Chakraborty
    Mob. 09436360912
    savenortheast@gmail.com

    Reply

  22. Vipul Mittal
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 13:27:35

    Hello Mr. Prasenjit, You are really doing a great job! We are also working in same direction. Let’s join hands and fight together against the unjust. i have sent you an email also with my personal details. Pls revert on that. Thanks .Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  23. Prakash
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 17:29:58

    Dear Doctor Rina Mukerji,

    Hats off to you for pulling this. You are a true inspiration and a hero for this fighting for justice. I just saw your case on youtube yesterday night (crime patrol).
    You are brave and very courageous, I wish my daughter becomes like you.

    Congratulations on this win in labor court. However, I am curious If there is any criminal proceeding against Ishan Joshi? Is he not put behind bars?

    BTW, All the best for the other 2 cases.

    Regards,
    Prakash
    The Netherlands

    Reply

  24. \irfan
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 22:22:17

    ThankGod ultimately justice is done no matter how long ……………………… hatsoff to the young lawyer who madeit.

    Reply

  25. Hari Gopal Pachisia
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 13:27:06

    What is the present status of your three case ?

    Reply

  26. Kiran Ghildiyal Madan
    Mar 16, 2014 @ 12:25:18

    Hi Madam, hats off to our courage….n congratulation…..n yes this would not be possible without the great support of your husband…….today saw ur story through crime petrol…….very touche….but u still manage to pay attention to your family…specially ur daughter……she must be proud of u……….am curious to know what exactly happy to Ishan Joshi…….?….once again congratulation …:)

    Reply

    • hasan abbas
      Mar 30, 2014 @ 21:35:38

      Dear Doctor Rina Mukerji,-

      Has The Statesman appealed to higher court the decision of Tribunal Judgement. Are you being RE-Instead to your job and got the lump sump of the aerier since your termination. Please inform. (HASAN ABBAS ZAIDY)   SECURITY OFFICER BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY VARANASI   

      Reply

  27. Ashok Kumar
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 16:08:46

    It is truly amazing that Dr. Rina defeated the the system which is designed to defeat the complainant by sheer length of time ,fatigue and mental trauma.I thank Sony also for showing these episodes in a repeat telecast recently.
    My family joins me in Congratulating Dr Rina and her family for there perseverance ,patience and fight ….While condemning the Management of THE STATESMAN I feel that they should say Sorry publicly to the lady and instead of making it an Ego issue and playing in the hands of their lawyers , they , including Ishan Joshi should withdraw MANHANI KA MUKADAMA and be graceful.
    Also the case shows that there is still hope despite the rotten system we have….!!!!

    Reply

  28. hari gopal pachisia
    Jul 14, 2014 @ 13:41:52

    “The industrial tribunal has awarded me reinstatement and full back wages from the time I was terminated in October 2002 on the ground that it was illegal. However, the libel suits-filed against me by The Statesman and Ishan Joshi for having tarnished their reputation are yet to be decided. I still have a long way to go for a full victory.”
    I WILL BE HAPPY TO KNOW THE FINAL RESULT OF THE THREE CASES

    Reply

  29. Tarun
    Aug 03, 2014 @ 14:11:36

    10 years to settle the truth!!! A Shame . Fast legal settlement should be the first priority for the Modi Government.

    Reply

  30. vijay guleria
    Jul 02, 2015 @ 08:19:54

    ABSOLUTELY COURAGEOUS WITH A SENSE OF DETERMINATION ‘N’ PERSEVEARANCE….KUDOS N APPLAUDES…KEEP THE GUSTO N ZEAL ALIVE

    V.J

    Reply

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