The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association on Tuesday suspended director Sajid Khan for a year over complaints of sexual harassment by several women, ANI reported. The suspension is effective immediately.
Actresses Saloni Chopra and Rachel White and journalist Karishma Upadhyay had spoken out on social media and accused Khan of sexual harassment, following which he had stepped down as director of the upcoming comedy Housefull 4.
The association said its internal committee had investigated the complaints against Khan. “The allegations in the complaints are serious instances of sexual harassment and abuse of power by Sajid Khan,” it said.
The association added it had given Khan a chance to defend himself but he had failed to do so. The directors’ body in October had issued a showcause notice to Khan and given him a week’s time to explain his “offensive behaviour”.
Khan had appeared before the committee on November 1 but did not give any explanation or response to the allegations, The Times of India reported. He had refused to accept that he molested the complainants, but had admitted to using impolite and abusive language.
The committee recommended Khan’s suspension in a report submitted to the association on December 7. The suspension will be reviewed after a year.
Committee member Shrabani Deodhar said although the complaints were from different periods, Khan’s “modus operandi of abusing the honour and dignity of women” remained the same. “We, therefore, have unanimously come to the conclusion of terminating his membership for one year,” she said. “This will set an example in the industry for people in the seat of power to behave themselves.”
The association had earlier also issued a showcause notice to actor Alok Nath, who has been accused of sexual assault and rape. The Mumbai Police last month registered a First Information Report against Nath based on a complaint by writer-producer Vinta Nanda, who has accused him of rape. On October 15, Nath had filed a civil defamation suit against Nanda and sought a written apology.