After TVF, Now ScoopWhoop Co-Founder Suparn Pandey Accused of Sexual Harassment
The complainant, who worked at ScoopWhoop between 2015 and 2017, claims that her ordeal lasted for almost the entirety of her tenure at the company.
Some people are blaming the young startups and media houses and yet others are taking fresh episode of a sexual harassment case as an obvious phase of ignorance of women safety at workplace. But the truth is far away from the public galore.
Just a few days had passed after the FIR against CEO & founder of The Viral Fever, Arunabh Kumar; and yet again new case has appeared on the startup surface.
Scoopwhoop Media Pvt. Ltd which is a popular media website on social media and famous for its bold content and women empowerment articles is in news as an FIR has been filed against its co-founder Suparn Pandey accusing him of sexual harassment and sexual assault, by a former senior executive from the same firm as reported by Catch News.
He has been charged under section 354 A (sexual harassment), section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and section 506 (criminal intimidation) and the FIR has been filed against Pandey at the Vasant Kunj (South) police Station, Delhi.
Reports further cite that along with Pandey, few other teammates of the ScoopWhoop team were also in loop about this matter and had enough knowledge about the communication between the complainant and the accused. Other co-founders Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar have also been named though for abetting harassment and trying to conceal it.
BW Businessworld team tried to contact Sattvik Mishra for a comment on the same but he did not respond till the time of filling this story.
In Anurabh’s case which was in much limelight in the month of March; no words of defense helped him. He came out and addressed the accusations made against him and said "I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she's sexy. I compliment women. Is that wrong?" The comment obviously did not help his case and he faced massive backlash for the same. After the incident, there were various debates and discussions on work place ethics and sexual harassment.
According to a recent update is that the ScoopWhoop co-founder Suparn Pandey filed for anticipatory bail today, but was denied the same. The court, however, has told Delhi police that they will have to provide Pandey with 5 days notice before arresting him.
The complainant, a former senior executive of ScoopWhoop Media Pvt. Ltd., has also accused other co-founders of ScoopWhoop – Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar, of abetting the harassment, and even attempting to sweep it under the carpet.
The irony is such that ScoopWhoop which has a well- known brand -a feminist webzine, Vagabomb has painted a damning picture of an organization that is anything but ignorant towards women safety and redressal issues.
Infact, if these kinds of cases keep lingering on, soon there would be a clear dissatisfaction among women in the workforce, in turn dissuading them to join media startups or any other new ventures.
Organisation with no clear systems of redressal for sexual harassment; where co-founders condone each other's transgressions, while conspiring to cover up their misdeeds, all this cannot go on at the cost of employees.
However, it is important to note that the complainant is no longer an employee of the media company ScoopWhoop and the other dimensions of her side of the story would be in the public eye soon after investigation.
In the FIR, the complainant, who worked at ScoopWhoop between 2015 and 2017, claims that her ordeal lasted for almost the entirety of her tenure at the company. She alleges that it began with verbal harassment from Pandey, who targeted her with “inappropriate comments and lewd remarks”. At one point, the FIR recounts, Pandey even went as far as to comment on the complainant's sexuality.
“Mr. Suparn Pandey in public commented on my sexuality and this comment included calling me a names (sic.) which reflected on my sexual orientation and my sexual preferenes (sic.) as well as characterized me in a certain way”, states the FIR. Pandey called me names which reflected on my sexual preferences and characterized me in a certain way."
While in a lot of cases, such incidents go unreported, usually due to intimidation, in this case the complainant claims to have raised the matter initially with ScoopWhoop co-founder Sriparna Tikekar. While Tikekar allegedly assured her that such behaviour wouldn't be repeated, she did not take any action against Pandey.
While the complainant tried to salvage the situation, steering well clear of Pandey, the FIR alleges that the company's earlier inaction only emboldened Pandey. Under various pretexts, Pandey repeatedly got uncomfortably close, often trying to play with her hair. Pandey was even brazen enough to allegedly send her a lewd video on the company's official Gmail chat.
The complainant states in the FIR that, despite the inaction, she never stopped taking up the issue with the company's founders. However, as she soon found out, while her complaints led to no repercussions for Pandey, she wasn't nearly as lucky. According to the complaint filed, Mishra and Tikekar, turned on the complainant, publicly humiliating her and driving home the message that she “had no authority in this situation”.
'Mr. Pandey approached me after the meeting, between 8-9:30PM, when I was alone at my work desk and asked me to be less “aggressive” in my dealings with other people and learn to “pour some sugar on it.” That after that, he then got up, kissed my forehead and walked away,' the complainant recounts in the FIR. Feeling “disgusted” and “physically violated”, she continued to reach out to Mishra and Pandey.
Despite this, she claims she was allegedly put in multiple situations where she was forced to work in close quarters with Pandey, and was “reprimanded and humiliated” when she refused. When she attempted to lodge a formal complaint, she alleges that she was dissuaded from doing so. She claims that she was eventually intimidated by the co-founders of the company, who threatened to hurt her career and defame her publicly. Following these events, she eventually resigned.
The reports are certain to accelerate already surging losses for the platform. The losses surged more than 150 percent in the fiscal year ended March 2016, as per a filing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). During this fiscal year, the filing mentioned that the losses soared to a massive Rs 6.48 crore on the back of nearly Rs 10 crores in revenues.
We’re closely following the story, and shall update you on the same, if there’s any new development.
ScoopWhoop has released an official statement on the company's website and mentioned, "The company is adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Hon. Supreme Court of India and the law of the land against sexual harassment at workplace and the investigation is ongoing. As an FIR has also been filed separately by the complainant, and the police investigation is ongoing, we are extending full cooperation to the police to conduct a full and fair investigation into the matter. We are fully prepared to accept the findings of the investigations and dutifully take the necessary action if found guilty."
Around The World