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Law Intern Death: Recording Reveals Pressure to Settle #MeToo Case

A fresh audio recording of a call between the intern and a fellow lawyer shows pressure on her to drop the case.

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A recorded telephone call between Prarthana*, 26, and a male acquaintance has shed light on the law intern’s ordeal and the pressure on her to withdraw the case against two senior city-based lawyers – Chetan Desai and Chandra Nayak – before she was found murdered.

Senior police officials told The Quint that her family, who came to Bengaluru on 22 November to mediate an out-of-court discussion between Prarthana and the two lawyers, had come at Desai and Nayak’s behest.

“Her father was keen to not make it a big issue. They wanted to sort the matter out and return to their home in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They wanted her to drop the case and reach an amicable settlement. Unfortunately, she died before anything could be resolved.”
Police

The call to Prarthana was made by a male lawyer named Kirti on 19 November, one day before she registered an FIR against the two advocates accusing them of harassment, misconduct and stalking at the Commercial Street police station in central Bengaluru, according to a report by The News Minute.

In the call, Kirti can be heard trying to convince Prarthana to give up the case, lest criminal proceedings are initiated against the two lawyers.

“If this issue becomes serious, if you give the complaint, criminal action will be taken against Nayak and Chetan. The issue will be known by all the advocates,” the man said, adding, “All the advocates will know. Once the FIR is registered, they will come and arrest Nayak and Chetan.”

The man continues to plead with Prarthana to convince her to change her mind. He told her that there was no point in approaching the police and that his only intention was to ensure that she compromises in the matter and drops the charges of sexual harassment against the lawyers.

Prarthana does not give in to the pleas of the man and, in fact, states her determination to go forward with the case.

“When I am saying no, how can he say that it was consensual? Who is he to say I consented to everyone? Let them arrest whomever they want. And I have taken this matter very seriously.”
Prarthana, in the recorded phone conversation.

Prarthana had been found dead on 24 November in her PG room in Malleshwaram. Consequently, a case of mysterious death has been lodged at the concerned police station.

There are now two concurrent probes taking place, one into her death, and one into her allegations of sexual harassment.

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Blackmail Over Career Prospects Being Hurt

The man on the phone also warned Prarthana that she would find it hard to find work if she pursued the case.

“Then this issue will be known to all advocates,” he said, “One serious thing is, and if it continues, they will not let you be in Bangalore.”

Prarthana then retorted by saying that she was never planning to stay in Bengaluru.

“But if at all they do this, I will see to it that I practice in Bengaluru. I will see to it. How they'll stop me? I'll see,” she is reported to have said in the call.

Determined to Send the Men to Jail

Prarthana speaks of the torment she was under, reportedly saying: “They are pressurising me to such an extent that I feel they are trying to control even my breathing.

In the 23-minute- conversation, Prarthana categorically said:

“My culprits should go behind bars and should never work in black coats again. This is justice for me.”
Prarthana, in the audio clip of the call

Prarthana also says in the course of the call that she had forwarded her complaint against the two advocates to 14 offices including Bar Council of India, Union Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, the National Women’s Commission, Chief Justice of India, and Advocate General of Karnataka high court, reports TOI.

Notably, Prarthana also said in the same conversation that she had been so harassed by the two men that she should have either committed suicide or gone mad under the pressure.

“They have harassed me so much that I should have either committed suicide or become mad. This is why I am fighting against them. I shall not bow to any pressure and will send them behind bars through the court. If they continue to track my friends and build pressure, I will go before the media.”
Prarthana, in the audio clip of the call.

*Name changed to protect identity.

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