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BPO rape case: Onus on Som Mittal, says SC
Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | February 21, 2008 16:53 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the prosecution of Som Mittal, chief of National Association of Software and Service Companies in the Pratibha Murthy murder case.
Pratibha Srikant Murthy, an employee of the Hewlett-Packard run business process outsourcing arm in Bangalore was allegedly raped and murdered by the driver of a vehicle leased by her employer.
Mittal, former managing director of Hewlett Packard Global Software Ltd was challenging the dismissal of his petition by the Karnataka high court against a case registered by the Karnataka government charging him for liability.
A three-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, K G Balakrishnan rejected Mittal's appeal.
The Bangalore police had moved the Magistrate seeking to prosecute Mittal. The Magistrate took cognizance of the matter following which Mittal moved the Karnataka high court against this order. The high court dismissed his petition following which the Supreme Court was approached.
While dismissing his petition the Bench stated that as the head of the company he was responsible for the safety and security of his employees.
This effectively means that the Karnataka police can now go ahead with the complaint against Mittal and seek his prosecution under the Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act.
The Karnataka police had alleged in their complaint that HP had not provided security to Murthy. The Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act, exempts IT firms from employing women. It also states that women should be provided adequate security and moreover they should not be the last ones to be dropped home.
The Karnataka police alleged that all these aspects had not been taken care of and hence Mittal being the head of the company at that time was responsible.
This order has come as a relief to Murthy's family. Her husband Pawan Shetty said that this is the best thing to have happened and companies in future should not take such matters lightly.
Murthy's family has been doing the rounds of the court since the past one and half years ever since the trial in the case commenced. A special court was set up in Bangalore to try this case and the trial was conducted on a day to day basis. However there were some delays when the judge was transferred and also when Mittal moved the high court and then the Supreme Court.
HP has however refused to comment on the matter stating that it is still in court and hence would be sub-judice.
Murthy was raped and murdered two and half years ago when the driver took her to an isolated place and slit her throat before dumping the body in a pit near Anjanapura layout.