HC Stays FIR Against Employees Who Sent Smileys To Woman Officer


Chennai: The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Thursday stayed an FIR against a few BSNL employees who had posted smileys in a WhatsApp group in response to a statement of a woman divisional engineer of the public sector telecom operator.

Divisional engineer L Vijayalakshmi of Tuticorin filed a complaint with the Tuticorin South police. According to the complaint, there was an official WhatsApp group for the affairs of administration of BSNL in the area. When she had sent a footage about the grievance of a customer and asked officials concerned to sort out the same, she received smileys group members, the woman officer said.

She further said her colleagues had sent smileys in order to harass her due to which she was disturbed and humiliated. Based on the complaint, the police registered an FIR against 49 BSNL employees under the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Information Technology Act.

Seeking to quash the FIR, the accused employees filed a petition in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice P N Prakash, the counsel for the accused people said that the complaint did not attract none of the provisions of the afore-said three Acts.  A person has the right to express his or her feelings and views in social media. This would never amount to any harassment, said the counsel.

The complainant had already ventilated her grievance before her department which conducted departmental proceedings by summoning all people concerned and said that there was no prima facie case in the allegations. Hence, the police should have not registered the FIR, which thus needed to be quashed, he said.