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Petitioner’s claim that she was demoted from her position in reprisal for her reporting of sexual harassment was thrown out of court: Himachal Pradesh High Court

Petitioner’s claim that she was demoted from her position in reprisal for her reporting of sexual harassment was thrown out of court, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE JYOTSNA REWAL DUA and JUSTICE TARLOK SINGH CHAUHAN, in the case of Sunita Kumari Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh (CWP No. 4074 of 2019).

 

Brief facts of the case:

Health officer at Community Health Center (CHC) in Syri, District Solan, Himachal Pradesh (“Respondent Organization”), where the Petitioner worked in the Health and Family Welfare Department. She claimed that the Block Medical Officer, Syri (“BMO”) engaged in sexual harassment and lodged a formal complaint against him on September 19, 2019. She was moved to CHC Sillai on December 4, 2019, from CHC Syri. She claimed that her move was retribution for her complaint against the BMO.

A number of complaints, including character assassination and mental torture (filed by BMO) and absenteeism, non-cooperation, and misconduct with the general public, had been lodged against Petitioner, the Respondent Organization asserted in response. An IC was appointed to look into the concerns, and on October 17th, 2019, they submitted their preliminary enquiry report. Petitioner has requested that the BMO be moved out of CHC Syri pending investigation in order to ensure a fair and just investigation. According to the preliminary information, the transfer of BMO occurred on November 21st, 2019. Petitioner also requested a transfer, which was denied. Her request for a transfer from CHC Syri to CHC Sillai was reviewed and granted afterwards.

The Respondent Organization argued that because of these facts, the transfer order was not issued in an attempt to harass Petitioner.

 

JUDGEMNET:

In dismissing the Petition, the Court echoed the sentiments of other justices from other courts around the country who have stated that an employee’s move is an essential part of their job and falls under the employer’s discretionary authority. Employee has no entitlement to a certain assignment or assignment duration. An employer has the only right to decide where and for how long an employee will be needed to perform his or her job duties. Since the employer has sole authority over matters of this nature, the Court cannot overturn the transfer order solely on the grounds that it will cause the employee undue hardship.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI

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