Hours after reports surfaced that the Mumbai police was likely to close the probe into the Arunabh Kumar sexual harassment row as no survivor came forward to lodge a complaint, the tables seemed to have turned on him.
An FIR was filed against Kumar yesterday under sections 354 A (causing sexual harassment) and 509 (insult the modesty of a woman by indecent words, gesture or acts) of the Indian Penal Code at the MIDC police station in Mumbai’s Andheri East suburb. The complaint has been filed on the basis of one woman coming forward.
The identity of the woman who has filed the complaint remains undisclosed. Multiple women had spoken out on social media after the co-founder of TVF was accused of sexual misconduct by an anonymous Medium blogger. But no victim had come forward in the weeks after the allegations were made public, to formally lodge a complaint against him.
Consequently, a third-party police complaint had been filed requesting an FIR against the TVF boss, by Mumbai-based lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee who, in a series of social media posts, had also urged the women to come forward.
Yesterday, after reports surfaced that the police might close the investigation due to a lack of women coming forward, Rizwan told Inc42 that, as per Section 166 A(c) of the Criminal law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the police cannot conduct an inquiry but have to investigate all complaints falling under 354 of the Indian Penal Code, by duly registering an FIR.
He also added that he had made a criminal complaint to the metropolitan magistrate to prosecute the sub-inspector and the DCP as they have blatantly failed to investigate the matter. He disclosed that while three women have spoken to him regarding the case but, as they were not confident about the system, they were reluctant to come forward to register a complaint.
The women also were scared as they felt that the accused was influential. However, with just one woman coming forward, the police now have all the grounds to pursue the case against Arunabh.
Speaking to Inc42, Rizwan cleared that the FIR has been filed because one of the victims came forward and has directly registered the complaint with her name as a complainant. His complaint also stands as is. Further commenting on the reports of the police closing the probe, he added that the police were just trying to confuse the media; they can only close investigations but do not have the authority to close complaints.
This new development puts TVF in a tough spot again, which was gearing up to launch its new web series Bisht, Please! on March 31, 2017 featuring co-founder Nidhi Bisht. The series which was scheduled to launch on 18th March had been cancelled after the whole controversy began on March 12.
Bisht had earlier written about her own experience of working at TVF in response to the slew of accusations posed on social media regarding her co-founder Kumar’s alleged misbehaviour stating that “TVF has zero tolerance towards workplace harassment and an investigation will be conducted and appropriate actions will be taken.”