For some time now there has been a growing concern over judicial redress for victims of sexual misconduct . It is widely felt that speaking about their experiences without approaching the judiciary is not only redundant but also illegal.
However judicial redress is now available to women who have spoken up. Two eminent Mumbai-based lawyers, Mrunalini Deshmukh and Vaibhav Krishnan have generously volunteered to prove legal aid to victims of sexual misconduct free of fee.
Confirming this significant development Ashok Pandit, president of the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) says, “Unfortunately our organization cannot punish the guilty legally. We can only ask for a boycott of the accused. In this context we’re very happy that Sajid Khan has been sent on leave from his directorial job in House Full 4. By doing this Akshay Kumar and (producer) Sajid Nadiadwala have set the right tone for the MeToo movement in India.”
Pandit informs that the IFTDA has sent out notices to all the accused filmmakers, “Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl,etc have been sent notices. We couldn’t send a notice to Nana Patekar since he’s an actor and not a director.”
(Technically Nana is a director. He directed the Madhuri Dixit starrer Prahaar).
Now Pandit says their response is awaited. “They have been given a 10-day span to respond to the notices. If they don’t respond they will be placed in the ‘non-cooperation list’ Thereafter the victims can seek legal redress which two of the most eminent lawyers of Mumbai, Mrunal Deshmukh and Vaibhav Krishnan have come forward to provide free of cost.”
In the meanwhile, two of director Sajid Khan’s alleged victims , Rachel White and Karishma Upadhyyay have come forward to narrate their horrific stories to the IFTDA.
Says Pandit, “It shook us to hear them talk about their experiences. No woman in any workplace should be subjected to this behaviour. There are serial predators in the film industry whom we’ve identified. I want them to know their time is up.We have two of the finest lawyers in the country to make sure they pay for their perversity.”