West Bengal: 3 Raj Bhavan staff booked for preventing woman from filing sexual harassment complaint

The Kolkata Police has filed a first information report against three staffers of the West Bengal Raj Bhavan for allegedly stopping a woman from filing a police complaint of sexual harassment against Governor CV Ananda Bose, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.

The complainant, a 29-year-old contractual employee at Kolkata’s Raj Bhavan, has accused Bose of inappropriately touching her on April 24 and on May 2. She wrote a complaint letter to the Raj Bhavan’s officer-in-charge on the day of the second incident.

The case against the three Raj Bhavan staffers was registered on the same day that members of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress protested outside the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata to demand the governor’s resignation.

The staff members have been booked for “wrongful confinement” and for disobeying the law as public servants under sections of the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Express reported citing unindentified sources.

The Kolkata Police this week also submitted to the state secretariat a report about an older complaint filed against Bose by a classical dancer, who alleged that he had sexually harassed her at an upscale New Delhi hotel in January 2023.

“It is a 7-8 month old complaint related to which a report has been submitted four days ago,” Additional Commissioner of Police Murlidhar Sharma said, according to The Indian Express.

The newspaper also reported that Trinamool Congress leader Kunal Ghosh had first alluded to the 2023 incident in a social media post in October. “Allegations of rape and harassment have been levelled against a top official of the state…. Commissioner of police has sent the file along with the complaint letter to the secretariat.”

Bose, however, has pointed out that he is legally immune under Article 361 of the Constitution and that no criminal proceedings can be initiated against him during his term in office. In a letter to his staff on May 5, he barred them from speaking to the police about the case.

The letter came a day after the Kolkata Police formed a special team to investigate the allegations, which Bose has described as “engineered narratives” for election benefits amid the Lok Sabha polls.

On May 9, around 100 people were shown CCTV footage of the Raj Bhavan premises from the day when the alleged sexual harassment occurred.

Bose has also banned the entry of police onto Raj Bhavan premises “under the guise of conducting unauthorised, illegitimate, sham and motivated ‘investigation’ to placate political bosses during elections”.

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