The following is a note issued by The Wire on October 20, 2018.
In perhaps the first ever initiative of its kind by a media organisation since the rise of the #MeToo movement worldwide, The Wire has established an independent, external committee headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court to investigate an allegation of sexual harassment levelled against its consulting editor, Vinod Dua, by the film maker Nishtha Jain.
The reason the committee is an external one is because the alleged incident dates back to 1989, when The Wire did not exist. Yet both Ms Jain and Mr Dua, who denies the charges, are entitled to have the matter examined impartially and competently.
On October 18, Ms Jain formally consented to the Committee taking up her complaint, which she has said she will submit by October 26. Mr Dua has also consented to the process.
The External Committee’s members are:
- Justice Aftab Alam, former judge of the Supreme Court
- Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna high court
- Prof Neera Chandhoke, retired professor of Delhi University
- Prof Patricia Uberoi, retired professor of the Institute of Economic Growth
- Ambassador Sujatha Singh, former foreign secretary
The members of the Committee have decided it will be chaired by Justice Aftab Alam. A one-person secretariat has also been established to assist the committee and to serve as the point of communication for both Jain and Dua.
Justice Alam has noted that from here on, The Wire will have no knowledge of the Committee’s proceedings till it reaches its final conclusion.
Since the external investigation The Wire has set up to look in to Ms Jain’s allegations has now formally begun, The Wire announces that:
- Vinod Dua’s program, ‘Jan Gan Man ki Baat’, will not be aired until the conclusion of the committee’s work.
- The recording Mr Dua made at the end of the last episode of ‘Jan Gan Man ki Baat’ in which he responded to Ms Jain’s allegation is no longer available on The Wire’s platforms. Instead, The Wire’s report on Ms Jain’s charges has been edited to incorporate Mr Dua’s denial.
- The Wire will not carry any statement or comment by either party or anybody else on the subject matter of the allegations until termination of the inquiry proceedings with the report and/or recommendations of the Committee, whose members are of unimpeachable integrity and impartiality.
On Sunday, October 14, 2018, Ms. Jain put up a post on Facebook against Mr Dua, accusing him of sexual harassment in 1989. The same day, The Wire’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) took note of the post.
On October 15, after holding a meeting, the ICC wrote to Ms. Jain asking her to send a formal complaint. She replied saying she would soon do so.
On October 17, Ms Jain was informed of the formation of an external committee, with the names of four members and asked for her consent as well as a formal complaint by October 18. Three of the four on the committee as notified to Ms Jain on October 17, were women.
The Wire would like to clarify that at no point of time was Ms Jain told that her complaint would be dismissed if not submitted within 24 hours. What was said was that given that the members are eminent persons with several other commitments, it would be in the interests of all that the matter is speedily taken up and resolved.
On the night of October 17, Ms Jain indicated that she would be unable to file a complaint before October 26, since she was travelling with poor connectivity. She also asked for a five member committee.
On the morning of October 18, The Wire responded by accepting her request for a five member committee. Since she said that she could not send in her complaint until October 26, we reassured her that the proceedings would only begin after her complaint was received. She was also asked if she could convey her consent earlier.
On the evening of October 18, Ms Jain formally conveyed her consent to the External Committee. With this, the Committee’s work to investigate Ms Jain’s allegations has now begun.
The Founding Editors