Sri Lanka’s national airline, SriLankan Airlines is facing at least two more court cases in India after a former regional manager of SriLankan Airlines was recently convicted after being accused of an alleged sexual harassment of a former Indian employee of the airline.
In a case filed by the New Delhi Police, the former airline senior official was recently convicted under section 509 of Indian Penal Code. Sentencing has been fixed for November 17, 2020.
In the second case, SriLankan Airlines has been accused of failing to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee as per the POSH Act (The sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act 2013) in relation to the sexual harassment claim. That case is at final stage and listed for hearing on October 1, 2020.
In the third case, the victim has challenged the finding of the ICC and also her termination and that case has been listed for hearing on November 5, 2020.
Ajay Verma, the lawyer appearing on behalf of the alleged victim, told the Daily Mirror that when an Indian employee claims that she was harassed in India the employer, in this case SriLankan Airlines, needs to follow Indian laws.
A Delhi Court recently ordered the conviction of Lalith de Silva Former Regional Manager (India) of SriLankan Airlines on the charge of outraging the modesty of a female employee. Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha, at the Patiala House Court pronounced the verdict through video conferencing and will decide the quantum of sentence on November 17, 2020.
However, SriLankan Airlines issued a statement later saying an inquiry had found there was no evidence to justify sexual harassment allegations made by the former employee against the former airline official. SriLankan Airlines also said that it was compelled to terminate the services of the female employee on disciplinary grounds following the due procedure in terms of laws in India.
However, Verma said that SriLankan Airlines has been accused of non-compliance of Indian laws.
He also said that any statement by the airline with respect to the conviction is contemptuous.
“The standard of evaluation of evidence is higher in a criminal trial. The judge has found the testimony of the victim trustworthy and convicted the accused. Both criminal cases have been going on before the same judge and a representative of the airline has been appearing on all dates. The conviction of the accused, Lalit de Silva, is in a State case and not in a private complaint case. The victim was terminated but it was stayed by the Industrial tribunal yet despite this she has not been allowed to work and she is without a salary. The victim has suffered mental trauma and I salute her for her determination to fight for her honour and despite the challenges she fearlessly gave her testimony before the trial court,” the victim’s lawyer told the Daily Mirror from New Delhi.
The Daily Mirror sought a comment from SriLankan Airlines but is yet to receive a response. (Easwaran Rutnam)