Thinley Namgay   

Thimphu Dzongkhag Court yesterday convicted Sandeep Rai, one of the directors of Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC), for sexually harassing his subordinate and sentenced him to eight months in prison.  

However, he can pay thrimthue of Nu 30,000 in lieu of the imprisonment term within 10 days. The court also ordered Sandeep Rai, 43, to pay Nu 45,000 as compensation to the victim within 10 days.  

The incident occurred when the victim and another female colleague were attending to their night shift duties at the company’s customer care office. 

The director, on September 15, last year at around 2am went to the victim’s workplace straight from a dinner gathering.   

He sexually harassed her after chasing her friend out of the room. The director scolded her friend and warned her that she would lose her job. 

Sandeep Rai told the court that he went there to check whether the customer care centre’s toll-free was working after receiving a complaint from the customers.   

Sandeep Rai said that she was found sleeping on duty which is against office rules. He  said he couldn’t scold her in front of her friend, and  told the friend to go outside. He denied the charges and said that she framed the allegations with bad intentions. 

The prosecutor from the police raised numerous questions: Is it necessary for the director to go and check at that time? Why did the director send her friend out instead of scolding both? Why he did not ask the victim’s friend to wake her up if she was sleeping? The police prosecutor said that the director could have talked to the victim the next day if she was sleeping during her duty. 

The director submitted that he went there to check as it is in his domain and he would be accountable for any lapses.    

Police found no official record regarding complaints on lapses in the customer care centre’s toll-free number.   The national referral hospital’s medical report also stated that the victim was mentally distressed by the incident.     

After the incident, the director, his wife, and other BPC officials visited the victim at her home numerous times. The victim and her husband had recorded all their conversations. The director submitted to the court that he went to her house to request to withdraw the false allegations.  

The victim formally filed a written complaint on September 21 last year. 

The BPC’s chief executive officer after receiving the complaint on September 22 formed an inquiry committee. The committee consisting of three senior female officers, a legal officer and the human resource official submitted a report to him on September 29. 

The director was suspended on September 24.  The case was forwarded to the police on October 1.  Police charged the director to court in November.