A former senior executive of ScoopWhoop Media Pvt Ltd. has accused co-founder Suparn Pandey of sexual harassment and sexual assault over a span of almost two years, reported Catch News on April 12, 2017. The complainant has also accused the other co-founders Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar of abetting the harassment, and even attempting to sweep it under the carpet.
The First Information Report (no. 0117) is filed at the Vasant Kunj police station and the accused is booked under Section 354A (sexual harassment), section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and section 506 (criminal intimidation).
In the FIR, the complainant says she was subjected to “inappropriate comments and lewd remarks” by Suparn. “Mr Suparn Pandey in public commented on my sexuality and this comment included calling me a names [sic.] which reflected on my sexual orientation and my sexual preferences [sic.] as well as characterised me in a certain way. Mr. Pandey got so bold as to send me a lewd video over the official Gmail chat, in which the words were “aapnu jeans dheeli karo”“, reads the FIR.
The complainant said she felt “disgusted” and “physically violated“. Even despite continued inaction on behalf of Sattvik and Sriparna, the complainant, the complainant said she never stopped taking up the issue with the company’s founders.
This incident comes only weeks after The Viral Fever‘s founder and CEO Arunabh Kumar was accused of molestation by former employees.
Suparn Pandey filed for anticipatory bail today, but was denied the same. The court, however, has told Delhi police that they will have to provide Suparn with 5 days notice before arresting him, Catch News reported.
Update 1: ScoopWhoop Media Pvt Ltd. released their statement in the afternoon of April 12, 2017, where they maintain innocence but agree to “accept the findings of the investigations and dutifully take the necessary action if found guilty.” The full statement can be read here.
Update 2: ScoopWhoop has released an internal email sent to all employees of the media company to news outlet NewsD and has leaked the complainant’s old emails which identify the victim by her vertical at the media company. This is in direct violation of Section 16 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of privacy under Press Council of India Journalistic Conduct Norms and Editor’s guild which protects victims and survivors of sexual violence. They not just prohibit naming the victim, but also identifying the victim by any other means and both ScoopWhoop and NewsD have violated this law. This is blatant victim harassment.
To know more about the right of privacy to victims of sexual harassment, read this useful guide on The Hoot here.
Update 3: On April 13, 2017, the complainant has given a short statement to the Indian Express saying she will “fight this till the end.” The full statement reads,
“Since June, 2016, I have consistently complained to the organisation about Pandey’s behaviour. There was no committee in place to address this till much later, which is why I had to take it to my seniors. When they did constitute a committee, I gave my statement, hoping for a redressal,” said the complainant.
“I have given a statement to police and to a judge, and I am going to fight this till the end. This should not happen to anyone else. I quit my job because of this. The atmosphere at work was ruined and there was no action against Pandey. Today, the founders have come up with a statement, which is mere lip service.”
This piece will be updated as and when we receive more information.