A former senior executive of online media organisation ScoopWhoop has filed a police complaint against a founder of the company, accusing him of sexual harassment. The FIR accuses co-founder Suparn Pandey of sexually harassing her for a period of two years. It also accuses the other co-founders of the organisation of abetting the crime, according to a report by Catch News.
The FIR filed at Vasant Kunj police station alleges that Pandey sexually harassed the complainant throughout her tenure at the organisation, where she worked from 2015 to 2017. The FIR invokes section 354 A (sexual harassment), section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Pandey allegedly initiated the harassment by making “inappropriate comments and lewd remarks” against the complainant. He is also accused of making comments on the survivor’s sexuality. “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 preferenes (sic.) as well as characterized me in a certain way,” the FIR reads.
According to the FIR, Pandey also allegedly sent lewd videos to the complainant apart from getting too close to the complainant and kissing her. “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 complaint. “Mr. Pandey approached me after the meeting, between 8-9:30PM, when I was alone at my work desk and asked me to be less ‘aggressive’ in my dealings with other people and learn to ‘pour some sugar on it’… he then got up, kissed my forehead and walked away,” the complaint adds.
The complainant has also alleged that the organisation tried to bury the matter when she reported it to co-founder Sriparna Tikekar. While the survivor was initially assured by Tikekar that the harassment would stop, no action against the accused was taken, the FIR says. This allegedly emboldened Pandey to continue the harassment in a more aggressive manner.
The former employee allegedly reported the matter multiple times to the co-founders. However, as per the complaint, both Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar publically humiliated her for complaining to convey that she “had no authority in the situation”. The duo allegedly allowed Pandey to show up drunk at work and to repeatedly touch the complainant. The FIR further says that the two co-founders even dissuaded her from lodging a formal complaint. It was when the co-founders threatened to hurt the former employee’s career and tried to defame her that she quit the organisation.
ScoopWhoop, in an official statement made after the news report was published, has claimed that the complaint made by the former employee was forwarded to the Internal Complaints Committee “immediately on receipt”. “As an FIR has also been filed separately by the complainant, and the police investigation is ongoing, we are extending full cooperation to the police to conduct a full and fair investigation into the matter,” the statement read.