June 4, 2018 / 10:56 AM / 10 months ago

Maneka Gandhi sets end-June deadline for Air India sexual harassment complaint

FILE PHOTO: An Air India aircraft takes off from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad, India, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has told national carrier Air India to complete an inquiry into a sexual harassment complaint made by a flight attendant by the end of June.

Maneka Gandhi, a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, on Monday met the flight attendant, who took to Twitter last week accusing a senior executive of sexually harassing her and the airline of refusing to address the matter in a timely and serious way.

Gandhi had taken up the case with the civil aviation minister, a statement issued by her ministry said.

“The Minister has also spoken to the head of the Internal Complaints Committee of Air India and has directed her to complete the inquiry within June 2018,” the statement said.

India put in place a law five years ago that aims to ensure safety for women working in both the public and private sectors. Under the act, detailed guidelines were issued to employers to prevent or deter sexual harassment and to set up processes to resolve, settle or prosecute such cases.

The flight attendant went public with her allegations in a letter addressed Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and Modi, which she tweeted on Tuesday.

In a second letter to Prabhu and Gandhi on Friday she accused Air India of trivialising her complaint when she first made it in September, alleging one executive told her: “so what? He flirts with me also.”

An Air India spokesman declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation into the incident.

The allegations come at a time when the government is struggling to find a bidder for the debt-laden state carrier. Its first attempt failed to draw even a single bidder last week.

Reporting by Suhail Hassan Bhat; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Alex Richardson

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