21 April, 2024


SriLankan Airlines Now In Jeopardy After Defending Sexual Abuse Convict

SriLankan Airlines in its defence issued a shocking statement to its staff claiming that the airline was no party to the conviction that was handed out to its former Regional Manager Lalith De Silva for sexually harassing and insulting the modesty of one of its Indian national female staff members, during the time he was stationed by the airline in New Delhi, India.

Lalith de Silva

However what the airline failed to mention in its statement is that the complainant victim had also filed a criminal case against the airline for its failure to have an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) as mandated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, law applicable in India.

The case Victim XXXX [Name withheld] Vs Sri Lankan Airlines regarding the above, is currently ongoing and is at the stage where arguments are being heard.

Currently arguments of the complainant have concluded with arguments of the defense yet to take place.

The next date for hearing of this case is scheduled to be held on the 1st October 2020.

SriLankan Airlines in its statement to its employees stated: “As the former Sales Executive had been dissatisfied with the outcome of the inquiry and she wanted another inquiry, the airline had conducted a further inquiry into her complaint in 2014 in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal Act of 2013 in India, where the Committee had been of the view that her complaint of ‘sexual harassment’ could not be justified and her transfer to Cochin would stand”.

However ever since the verdict was announced on the 17th of September 2020, and being in the knowledge that the Metropolitan Magistrates Court in New Delhi had found sufficient evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt and convicted Laith De Silva, SriLankan Airlines still continued to mislead its staff by issuing such a memo, barely a day after the conviction.

A prominent legal professional who handles aviation matters said: “I am shocked that SriLankan Airlines who is currently also facing an ongoing case for negligence on their part is making statements against a judgement that has already been made by the Indian court against one of its employees, who was once their employee. This could be perceived as contempt of court. Also it appears that the Legal Department of SriLankan Airlines has not followed the due process in professionally handling this matter”

“If the airline continues its line of defence in this manner, it stands to face repercussions in its failure to support its gender policy” he further said.

This is probably the first instance where an employer is being prosecuted for not having an Internal Complaints Committee as confirmed by the Department of Women and Child, Government of NCT Delhi on the 11th of November 2014 in open court.

As per the THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013, the penalty as specified under section 26 reads:

26. Penalty for non-compliance with provisions of Act.—(1) Where the employer fails to—
(a) constitute an Internal Committee under sub-section (1) of section 4;

1. Subs. by Act 23 of 2016, s. 3 and the Second Schedule, for “Local Complaints Committee” (w.e.f. 6-5-2016).

(b) take action under sections 13, 14 and 22; and

(c) contravenes or attempts to contravene or abets contravention of other provisions of this Act or any rules made thereunder, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.

(2) If any employer, after having been previously convicted of an offence punishable under this Act subsequently commits and is convicted of the same offence, he shall be liable to—

(i) twice the punishment, which might have been imposed on a first conviction, subject to the punishment being maximum provided for the same offence: Provided that in case a higher punishment is prescribed under any other law for the time being in force, for the offence for which the accused is being prosecuted, the court shall take due cognizance of the same while awarding the punishment;

(ii) cancellation, of his licence or withdrawal, or non-renewal, or approval, or cancellation of the registration, as the case may be, by the Government or local authority required for carrying on his business or activity.

Even though SriLankan Airlines is in jeopardy of incurring a mere fine of Indian Rs 50,000 as a first time offender, it is the stigma of being convicted for such an offense is what will linger on forever.

Lawyer Ajay Verma the complainant’s attorney when contacted by Colombo Telegraph for a quote regarding the statement issued by Sri Lankan Airlines said: “The airline has been misleading the public as the conviction of the former regional manager is in a criminal trial pursued by State Government of National Capital territory of Delhi in India based upon a charge sheet submitted by Delhi Police after it investigated the crime. The statement that no evidence in the case is contemptuous as a competent court of Indian jurisdiction after conducting full trial and evaluating the evidence adduced before it came to conclusion that the accused Lalith De Silva is Guilty of an act committed under section 509 Indian Penal Code. It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt by an Indian Court that on 8.10.2009 the accused Lalith De Silva Committed acts of sexual harassment.”

“It is to be noted that in a separate criminal trial the airline is also being prosecuted section 27 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 on the complaint of the victim for not having the ICC (Internal Complaint Committee) as Mandated under the said Act. The provision prescribes for imposition of penalty. The Trial Court is yet to decide whether alleged policy if any as claimed was in accordance with Indian Laws or not. The statement of accused airline has been recorded on 11.4.2019 through its Authorized representative Chinthaka Weerasinghe. The trial has been concluded and is at the stage of final arguments which the court will hear on 1.10.2020. These two criminal cases have been going mostly on the same date before the same court. The representative of the airline has been attending the hearings and it is completely false that the airline had no knowledge”.

“The claim of the Airline that an enquiry was conducted as per their policy is untenable as a sham enquiry not in compliance of Indian laws cannot be recognized, moreover when the complaint was rejected on account of delay. An incident that happened at Delhi needed to be enquired into as per Indian laws and not in accordance to policy as claimed. It was the victim who approached the Hon’ble Delhi High Court by way of a writ and sought action against the airline. It was pursuant to a strict observation by the Hon’ble High Court on 12.11.2014 the airline then constituted a committee as per Indian Laws and conducted enquiry at New Delhi”.

“The finding of the enquiry committee has been challenged before the Industrial Tribunal in Delhi which is going to examine the correctness of the findings including termination. The termination has already been stayed by the Ld. Tribunal and despite all this the victim has not been allowed to work. Victim still believes that justice would be done to her.”

Published below is the summoning order which explains the chronological sequence and series of events that Sri Lankan Airlines is currently being prosecuted for the negligence committed on their part.

(By Janaka Ranawera)

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Latest comments

  • 48

    An near bankrupt country does not need a national airline which bleeds millions of dollars. Just close it down, the sooner the better, and have an open skies policy. Well established, reliable airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Singapore) will do the much better job and pay taxes to our govt.

    • 41

      Srilanken Airline’s bankrupsy was masterminded by Rajapakshe rule during the period of 2005-2015

      So those who flew by SLanknen then dont need extra lessions to get it.

      CBK s govt brought billions of profit to SRILANKEN state, at the time, Slanken was handled by Emirates. To that time, so called pseudo patriots painted the picture that Ms CBK sold it to Emirates. Pseudo patriots are welcome by the people as ” mega patriots ” in this country – that paved the way, criminals to get back to power.
      Brother in Law of MR (Brother of Shiranthi the bandit queen)- the mafia boss of all times, was proved to have enjoyed his times at SLanken, although nothing was in his head to manage the airline.
      We stopped flying by SL for the last 10 years. Those days, we thought, we should travel by SLanken because that would be a help to our people, but later what became clear was, that was totally handled by a bunch of group close to Rajapakshe. The wounds made in SL are beyond cure. So it is a burden to srilanken state.
      We are not reborn, but we know how current president, then secretary of defence, abused the airline.

      With all being the reality, punnaku eaters dominated srilanke re-elected them. Now we can ask ” are you happy ” ?

      • 8

        leelagemalli “We stopped flying by SL for the last 10 years.”
        same here …even though I generally prefer non stop flights …..only Sri Lankan fly non stop to Colombo…….I have stopped flying Sri Lankan.

        I go through the hassle of changing in one of the ME country even if that means either dashing to get the connecting flight or dozing for few hours for the connecting flight

        • 9

          Rajash, I am very comfortable with ” emirates” for all these years. Flights to Melbourne from Frankfurt was very comfortable.
          Since MR s brother in law took over the chairmanship, I tried my best to be away from SLanken airline. Why to enrich the hands of a family ? I dont have any sympathy towards our people after they now paved the way again high criminals to be the leaders of our nation.
          Btw We are now golden card holders as frequent travellers.
          I am used to rely on Lufthansa and Eurowing flights within Europe (Dusseldorf to London, Dus to Munich, Dus to Rome, Dus to Southafrica)

      • 13

        Dear CT,

        Please be well alert on ONES that add their “dislikes”- most of them work for hidden agendas of cyber criminals (Iraj Weeraratne, S.C Pasqual- backlicker of Rajapakshe criminal propaganda)

        Why should it be possible one person to add more one “click” on “dislikes” ? CT please be serious with the kind of commenters that could destroy the crebibility of your web site.

    • 22

      Greece was in the similar situation, But EU was there to help them.
      But knowing the truths about srilanken, who would help srilanka ?

      Perhaps Rajaakshe family who looted it as no others ?

      Only god knows how srilankens will have to face it in the days to come.

      God bless srilanka !!!!!If Karma would punish the criminals in power sooner than later, this nation would have a better future.

      • 6

        EU has pumped billions of Euros to the Greeks but under some conditions.

        I think if srilankens would go down in the next few months under the leadreship of RAJAPAKSHES, China will help but then becoming srilanka a chinease colongy of modern day will be inevitable. So then the chinese would esily abuse srilanka s geographical location strengthening their powers against the indians.

        Then our people will finally realize what they did by bringing the criminals back to be our leaders.

    • 5

      If we get rid of the national airline they how will politicians in power do jolly trips in big numbers and even grab the duty free stuff from the plane?
      This manager just like other rascals in the country don’t know how to with the heart and mind of a foreign girl. I had the privilege to date a few north Indian girls during my young days where I could sing western sons and do the western dances. We are now a backward country with crude habits. I like the Anglo girls in Bombay.

    • 1

      Sarath p –
      Are you trying to infer that Lanka is not yet a bankrupted beggars colony.
      That’s where you are gloriously wrong.
      It has been made one by the Banda s and now into a full-time beggars colony owned lock stock and barrel by the crafty criminal wily as ever rajapuka clan.

  • 26

    what is odd about the SriLankan Airlines shocking statement is about the transfer of their Indian Employee from Delhi to Cochin…..
    .”her complaint of ‘sexual harassment’ could not be justified and her transfer to Cochin would stand”.”
    I work as a consultant for several multinational IT companies. They have offices all over Indian employing over 100,000 staff all over India.

    India is a vast country with local culture and language and religion across all its states.

    Even big Indian and Western IT companies don’t transfer staff , from one state to another. …

    in this case whose family is in Delhi who is born and brought up in Delhi with friends in Delhi .to Cochin a city down South 1000′ of miles away.

    Sri Lankan Airline, a minute foreign air line with skeleton local staff in Delhi and cochin and Chennai etc operating in leaky offices with no air condition, ..to boast and I quote “….her transfer to Cochin would stand”. ..is itself an admission there was a case of sexual harassment. ..(hey you !we are a big big company either yo go to Cochin or we fire you!! ha ha )

    Sri Lankan airline is trying to bury a pumpkin in a plate of rice.

    Sri Lankan Air Line should have known that in Delhi they eat Chapatti and Naan

    Damn Disgrace!!!

  • 20

    But when there are convicted murderers in Rajapaksa’s Party in Sri Lanka’s Parliament as well as war criminals in top posts, I am wondering whether the Regional Manager Lalith De Silva may have thought to demonstrate his intolerance like the Rakshasas clan.

  • 19

    This will turn out to be another Standard Charted Affair , where country will pay in millions for not only ,one person,s sexual fantasies /harassment/abuse of power., but the employer trying to shield the accused , according to Lankan rules. . This lady has worked for SL for more than 15 years,a very senior staff and was there even before this MCP became boss.

  • 18

    By the way one herein CT questioned the credibility of the victim ????? (just because she is an Indian). That is to be decided by the courts. No woman, married with children worked more than 15 years, a senior staff , goes out in public with such frivolous claims, and fights for justice almost 10 years going through such hardships. Just because such behaviors are considered normal in Lanka dosent mean the same outside. Who ever claims such doubts may wish not to be in that situation ever.

  • 12

    This male domination patter still survives in the job culture and it has made less opportunity for women to work

    No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds

  • 2

    It appears that a 2nd Inquiry was held as per the request of the complainant. Still, that “Inquiry” did not find any credibility of the complaint. But the complainant was “Transferred” to Cohin, on service requirements. She failed to report to the newly assigned station and was terminated for failure to report to work. The interesting points to look at here would be to find the “Composition” of that panel of inquiry and was it instituted as per the requirements of the provisions of the Indian Law relating to these types of complaints. Next what were the “Findings” and how was the “Final” verdict arrived at. What was the necessity to “Transfer” the complaint to Cohin? Was there an “urgent” requirement of her services in Cohin? Was that “Transfer” to a far off station from her home done in “Good Faith” or “Malice”? Was that transfer to ‘compel” her to refrain from accepting the new assignment, and getting an undue advantage to “Terminate” her services? This is the “HUGE BURDEN” of “PROOF” that the airline will be required to establish at the ongoing inquiry by the Indian Courts.

  • 0

    There are three sides to every story His side Her side and the truth.

    • 2

      a14455 / September 19, 2020

      Truth side is burried in today s context – so long MEDIA mafia is directly hadled by RAJAPAKSHE family all along. Look at the media <——-

      Today the whole lot of same parliamaentarians, that voted for 17.A, 18 A and 19A are getting ready to vote for 20A with the latter is totally against 19A. Meaning not only politicians but also majority of this country are crackbrained.
      Shameless to say, GOTABAYA s actions are beyond all ethics and morals. No doubt he will destroy almost everything in this country.
      Media behaves so silent even if " an elephant in the room" regarding today s ground realities. They dont care about the improving of the awareness of the vulnerable groups in the society (they are the majority).

  • 6

    So most of the male commentators say the woman was lying? That will always be the way, won’t it? Sexual harassment in Sri Lanka is normal. Accepted in the workplace. The boss and male executives always feel that the women workers are there to pleasure them. We need to overcome such backward thinking. Don’t wait for our men to go abroad to find out what their true position is.

    • 0

      I dont say the woman was lying but in this case there are two different conclusions one from the company with both parties present and another from a court with only the lady in question without representation from the company or the guy. So I am not sure what to believe.

      • 1

        – So, I am not sure what to believe.
        You know what you could do to be sure what to believe. You could G-R-O-W.

  • 0

    It’s sad how our own people give their verdict of guilty without an ounce of knowledge on what has happened! [edited out]

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