There are many cases of physical molestation at workplace, not just in India but in other countries too, and in most of the cases, the victims are women. The Indian government too made some laws in order to protect women from molestation at workplaces but now some cases which have come in limelight reveal that women are using these laws in a wrong way for fulfilling their own interests.
One such case of physical molestation became public when almost 9 years back, a colleague of Digambar Gaikwad (57) filed a police complaint against him, claiming that Digambar had molested her on November 5, 2008 while they were together in an official car. Digambar was employed with the state agriculture department, Shivajinagar, as deputy director and the complaint was made by Sunanda Kurhade, who was also a deputy director and was in her thirties. The common factor between them was that both were trying for the same job, which was of a coordinator of a World Bank Project. The result of the case came out in five years and Sunanda has been ordered by the court to pay Rs. 10 lakhs as compensation to Digambar.
Five days after Nov 5, 2008, an official complaint was made by Sunanda with the commissioner of the dept, and she made a police complaint on Nov 19. This was a big setback for Digambar as he was just few months away from getting retired.
Digambar was arrested but later released on bail. He took voluntary retirement and left his house in Pune to stay in his wife’s village. He always maintained, during internal inquiry as well as his appearances in the court, that Sunanda had been doing this as they both were trying for the same post.
He was acquitted in April 2010 by the additional chief judicial magistrate, as Magistrate V K Kadam ordered this on April 28,
“It can be inferred that the complainant in order to get appointment for the post of coordinator, implicated the accused in a false, frivolous complaint.”
Police went for higher courts but got no success and Sunanda too appealed in Bombay HC but all in vein. As her last attempt, she filed a petition for special leave in the apex court but it was rejected in 2014, making it clear that Digambar was innocent.
However, surprisingly, Digambar was stated guilty in the internal inquiry of the department but when he approached the Governor and challenged the report, he was pronounced not guilty. Shockingly, the driver of the car in which Digambar and Sunanda were travelling together on Nov 5, 2008, was not even questioned in the internal enquiry of the dept.
When Digambar was proved innocent in all the enquiries, he slapped a defamation case on Sunanda in Small Causes Court, Pune in June 2012. He demanded Rs. 60 lakhs as damages from Sunanda, claiming that he might have earned Rs. 50 lakhs while working as coordinator and Rs. 10 lakhs for defaming him. The verdict came on Jan 6, 2017, in which Magistrate CP Jain ordered Sunanda to pay Rs. 10 lakhs to Digambar within 2 months and if she failed, “On failure to pay the amount within aforesaid time, defendant (Kurhade) shall pay six per cent per annum interest on Rs 10 lakhs till the realisation of amount.”
Digambar is pretty happy now, living the life of a farmer in Dehu village which is around 30 kms from Pune. In his words,
“For years I couldn’t sleep properly. Everyone around me knew that the complaint was false and yet only a few stood by me. I was caught between trips to the department and courts in Pune, Mumbai and even Delhi. It took a lot for me to prove my innocence. I had made up my mind that I won’t give up ever.”
He said that he took the decision of suing Sunanda after he was proved innocent by the High court.
“My reputation had been dented. From being a straight forward deputy director in the agriculture department with not a single blot on my career of 35 years, I had become this monster who had apparently molested a lady much younger than him. Some of my close associates and friends gave up on me. Fortunately, my wife and two kids stood by me. Now I feel so much better. The outcome of this case is a lesson for all those who file false cases.”
However, when Sunanda, who is presently in Kolhapur, was contacted by Mirror, she said, “I am not aware of the order as yet and cannot comment.”
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