The prayer in the writ petition is for a Certiorarified Mandamus calling for the records of the first respondent in R.O.C.No.1240/WC/2009 dated 19.1.2010 and quash the same so far as the recommendation for severe disciplinary action as against the petitioner for giving a false complaint in Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women is concerned.
2. The case of the petitioner is that she was working as Associate Professor in the department of Chemistry, Presidency College, Chepauk, Chennai-5. She has put in 19 years of unblemished service. She is residing at a Government Quarters, Thirumangalam, Anna Nagar West, Chennai along with her two daughters. As her marriage was dissolved on 15.10.2008, she alone was to there to look after her family only out of the income, she gets.
3. The further case of the petitioner is that taking advantage of the status of the petitioner, one of her colleague, named K.V. Rajendran, Associate Professor, Physics Department of the same college, who happened to be a neighbour of the petitioner in the same locality, became her friend and thereafter, he started to harass her physically and mentally at work place and also outside work place which prompted the petitioner to file a complaint against the said K.V. Rajendran for sexual harassment at work place before the first respondent under "The Tamilnadu State Commission for Women Act, 2008".
4. The said commission after having enquired the said complaint given by the petitioner passed the impugned order on 19.1.2010 issuing necessary directions to the second respondent to take severe disciplinary action against the petitioner for giving false complaint to the first respondent Commission. Pursuant to the said order of the first respondent, the second respondent initiated disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner on 25.3.2010 for giving the alleged false complaint against the said K.V.Rajendran.
5. Aggrieved by the said order passed by the first respondent dated 19.1.2010, recommending to the petitioner's employer to take severe disciplinary action against the petitioner, the petitioner has come out with the writ petition with the aforesaid prayer.
6. Heard both sides.
7. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner has a preliminary contention and raised an issue that the Government of Tamil Nadu published a Gazette dated 31.1.2010 by which a notification was issued. Under the said notification, nomination of Chair person and other members of the commission under the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women Act and the constitution of the said Commission was issued. Clause 3 of the said notification states that the said notification shall come into force on the 1st February 2010. Relying on the said notification as well as the date on which, it came into force i.e., on 1st February 2010, the learned counsel for the petitioner would contend that the impugned order passed by the first respondent on 19.1.2010 would not be a sustainable one for the reasons that the Commission itself was constituted by the said notification dated 31.1.2010 and the same came into force only from 1st February 2010 and therefore, the Commission did not have any jurisdiction to issue the impugned order dated 19.1.2010 before the very constitution of the Commission itself. The learned counsel for the petitioner also raised another issue stating that under Section 7(3) of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women Act, 2008 (hereinafter referred to as Act), the Commission after investigating any matter if satisfied that there is a prima facie case, may refer the matter to the authority concerned including the police and such authority shall take appropriate action as per law. This enabling provision would not confer any power on the Commission to make any recommendation to the employer of the petitioner to take disciplinary action against the petitioner for the alleged reason of frivolous complaint filed by the petitioner. According to the learned counsel for the petitioner, the import of the said Section 7(3) of the Act is only for recommendation to the appropriate authority that too on prima facie satisfaction of the substance of the complaint or representation submitted to the Commission.
8. Here in this case, if there is no substance or prima facie available on the complaint filed by the petitioner, then the only option open to the Commission is to reject the complaint of the petitioner and not to make any further recommendation to the employer of the petitioner for taking disciplinary action. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the impugned order dated 19.1.2010 passed by the first respondent Commission would not stand in the legal scrutiny in view of the said two major objections raised by the petitioner and therefore, he prays for allowing the writ petition by quashing the order of the first respondent Commission dated 19.1.2010.
9. Per contra, the learned counsel appearing for the respondents 1 and 2 as well as the private respondent No.3, who has subsequently been impleaded would submit that the Women's Commission in the State of Tamil Nadu is not only from the year of 2008 or thereafter, pursuant to the Act, but still goes back to the year 1993. In the year 1993, the State Government issued a Government Order in GO.Ms.No.72, Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department, where by the decision of the State Government to set up a State Level Commission for Women called the Tamil Nadu Commission for Women was envisaged.
10. According to the said Government Order, the Commission for Women consisting of Chair person and other members was established. Under clause 6 of the said GO.Ms.No.72, the functions to be performed by the Commission has been enumerated. The said clause (6) is usefully referred to here under:
"6. The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-
(a) investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws;
(b) Present to State Government annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of these safeguards and make in such reports recommendations for the effective implementation of those safeguards for improving the conditions of women;
(c) review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws affecting women and recommend amendments thereto so as to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations;
(d) take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities;
(e) look into the complaints relating to:-
(i) deprivation of women's rights;
(ii) non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development;
(f) call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal;
(g)undertake promotional and educational research so as to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identify factors responsible for impeding their advancement;
(h) inspect or cause to be inspected jail, remand home, women institutions or other place of custody where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise, and take up with the concerned authorities for remedial action, if found necessary;
(i) any other matter which may be referred to it by the State Government;"
11. Only pursuant to the said Government Order, the Tamil Nadu Commission for Women was constituted and the said Commission since was entrusted the said functions under clause 6 of the said Government Order had been functioning for long years. When that being so, the Commission with its routine work also had an occasion to deal with the complaint given by the petitioner and ultimately, the Commission constituted a two member committee to investigate and report on the complaint given by the petitioner. The said committee after investigating the complaint of the petitioner has given a detailed report and the operative portion of the said report is reproduced here under for better appreciation of the same.
" The Committee would like to point out that the demeanor and disposition of Dr. N. Ramalakshmi are very undesirables and despicable. While, the Tamil Nadu State Women Commission strives very hard to get justice to the affected women it also abhors women who try to misuse the Acts and Law to achieve their base motives to redress their unjustifiable grievances and try to settle their personal scores using the statutory machinery. This Committee strongly recommends to the Director of Collegiate Education to take severe disciplinary action against her for giving a false complaint to the Tamil Nadu State Women Commission."
12. From the above report, it can be easily found that the committee strongly recommended to the Director of Collegiate Education to take severe disciplinary action against the petitioner for giving a false complaint to the Women's Commission. Only pursuant to the said report of the Committee, the Commission passed the impugned order on 19.1.2010 and thereby, the Commission requested the second respondent to take disciplinary action against the petitioner for giving a false complaint to the Women's Commission. Pursuant to the said order of the first respondent, the second respondent issued a show cause notice to the petitioner on 04.2.2010, whereby the petitioner was directed to give show cause as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against the petitioner as requested by the Women's Commission. It is pertinent to note that the notice issued by the second respondent dated 04.2.2010 is only a show cause notice, by which the second respondent directed the petitioner to submit her explanation as to why disciplinary action should not be initiated.
13. Therefore, before the initiation of the disciplinary proceedings, it was a prelude by way of a show cause notice and in response to the same, the petitioner would have a chance of giving a detailed reply as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against the petitioner and whatever the defence the petitioner wants to take to escape from any proposed disciplinary action can also be taken and in such eventuality, it is for the second respondent to take a decision whether actually, the disciplinary action is required against the petitioner or not.
14. Without resorting to such course of action, the petitioner has come to this Court challenging the very order of the first respondent dated 19.1.2010.
15. I have considered all the rival submissions submitted by the respective counsels appearing for the parties.
16. Insofar the first objection raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the first respondent Commission does not have power to issue the impugned order, cannot be accepted for the simple reason that the Women's Commission has been in the office right from 19.3.1993 i.e., on the issuance of GO.Ms.No.72, Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department. Only in the year 2008, Act 31/2008 namely, Tamilnadu State Commission for Women's Act, 2008 was passed inter alia taking or replacing the constitution, powers, functions and other allied matters pertaining to the Women's Commission as envisaged under the said GO.Ms.No.72. If we place clause 6 of the GO.Ms.No.72 and Section 7 of the Act in juxta position, it could be easily ascertained that almost a similar power as provided to the Women's Commission under the said Government Order have been given to the Commission under Section 7(1) of the Act. Merely because, the Commission was reconstituted pursuant to the said Act by the said notification dated 31.1.2010 and the said notification came into force only from 1st February 2010, it cannot be said that the Commission itself was not constituted before the said date and therefore, the Commission did not have any power to deal with the complaints of anyone including the petitioner. Therefore, the first ground raised by the petitioner is rejected.
17. Insofar as the second ground is concerned, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner heavily relied upon Section 7(3) of the Act. According to the learned counsel, under the said sub Section, the Commission has got power to refer the matter to various authorities including the police for taking appropriate action as per law, only if the Commission prima facie satisfies that there is a substance in any complaint or representation submitted to the Commission. The said interpretation as sought to be employed by the learned counsel for the petitioner is given to Section 7(3) of the Act, it would have a disastrous implication as the powers of the Commission itself would be denuded because it is for the Commission to satisfy itself on any complaint or representation received from any quarters individually or by a group or NGO etc., and on prima facie satisfaction whatever action in furtherance of such prima facie satisfaction to be taken by the authorities concerned shall be communicated to such authority by the Commission by way of recommendation. This power is always there with the Commission especially under Section 7(3) of the Act. Therefore, the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that in respect of the case of the petitioner if at all, there is no prima facie case made out, it is the duty of the Commission only to dismiss such a complaint and not to make any further recommendation to take disciplinary action against the petitioner, is not an acceptable one and hence, the said contention is also rejected.
18. As has been stated in the earlier paragraphs, pursuant to the order impugned, the second respondent only issued a show cause notice on 04.2.2010 seeking show cause from the petitioner as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against her. Since it is a show cause notice and by replying to the said show cause notice, the petitioner can very well explain her position under which, the complaint was actually given to the Women's Commission and also take what ever grounds or defence to protect her from the clutches of any disciplinary proceedings as proposed by the second respondent of course, pursuant to the impugned order, and that course of action, the petitioner can always take into her hands.
19. In view of the aforesaid discussion and the legal position, this Court finds no merits in the writ petition as the impugned order passed by the first respondent is fully justifiable one and the first respondent has got every power to issue such order.
20. In the result, the writ petition is dismissed. However, it is open to the petitioner to give reply or defence in response to the show cause notice, dated 04.2.2010, issued by the second respondent where, the circumstances under which actually, the complaint was given by the petitioner, being a women, can also be explained and any such reply is so given by the petitioner, this Court expects that the second respondent would look into the matter by taking a pragmatic view having in mind that the petitioner is a women and also a divorcee and working in an institution where chances of such kind of pinpricks would be there and accordingly, a decision can be taken by the second respondent regarding the further course of action to be taken against the petitioner.
21. With these observations, the writ petition is dismissed. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.