The Cine and TV Artists Association on Tuesday apologised to actor Tanushree Dutta for not addressing her complaint of sexual harassment and intimidation appropriately in 2008. The association, which aims to protect the interests of film and television actors, said “no apologies can suffice” and resolved to ensure that such lapses do not repeat.

Dutta accused senior actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing and intimidating her in 2008 on the sets of Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. On September 28, she said a director had asked her to take off her clothes and dance to give co-star Irrfan Khan his cues. She did not name the director but said the incident occurred on the sets of Chocolate (2005), which was filmed by Vivek Agnihotri.

The association’s statement came two days after Dutta received two legal notices from Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri. It said a three-year statute of limitations prevents it from reopening the cases.

The association urged the authorities concerned to conduct an “impartial and speedy inquiry” into the matter. The actors’ association also requested artistes to report such incidents to the association immediately after they occur. “We are duty bound to give them our complete moral and legal support to ensure just and safe working conditions,” it added.

Dutta told The Hindu that the association’s statement was both positive and negative. “These people [the new committee] have more conscience and more soul than the ones before them,” she said, expressing her disappointment that the association cannot reopen her case. “It is a 10-year-old harassment case. I was threatened then and I am being threatened now.”

Concerns about ‘powerful names’

Sushant Singh, the association’s general secretary, told The Indian Express that the organisation was working on fixing flaws in the redress system.

“I will be honest, we do not receive any complaints against the powerful names,” Singh said. “I suppose it again boils down to the fear of losing work and the pressure they may be under. But I will add that the committee also comprises of actors, who probably face the same fears when dealing with a sexual harassment complaint against a powerful person. Also, it has happened in the past that the committee has stood by the victim but the victim, under pressure, has withdrawn the complaint, leaving the committee members in bad books of the powerful predator.”

Police inquiry only after official complaint is lodged, says minister

Meanwhile, Maharashtra minister Deepak Kesarkar on Thursday said an impartial inquiry in the matter would be initiated once Dutta files a formal complaint against Patekar, PTI reported.

The minister, a member of the Shiv Sena, said while the state government was not biased in favour of Patekar, the veteran actor is an “illustrious personality” who has done a lot for the state as a social worker. “When an official complaint is lodged, police will be able to probe the case transparently so that justice is done to both the sides,” Kesarkar added.