Ground Report | New Delhi: Samdish Bhatia sexual assault; Samdish Bhatia, a former anchor for ScoopWhoop, has accused Sattvik Mishra, the media website’s CEO, of sexual assault. The alleged sexual assault, according to Bhatia, happened in October of last year, and he promptly filed a complaint with the company’s internal complaints committee. Mishra however has denied the charges, accusing Bhatia of fabricating the story in order to defame him and extract Rs 7 crore from him. Bhatia has denied this, claiming that he was offered hush money to keep his allegation quiet by someone acting on Mishra’s behalf.
Samdish Bhatia who used to host the show Unscripted for the site resigned from the show along with his team and started their own YouTube channel. Sattvik Mishra who refuted the claims of Bhatia also stepped down from his position of CEO. The website shared the news of Mishra stepping down on their official Instagram handle citing ‘ personal reasons.
According to a report by Newslaundry, Bhatia filed a complaint against Mishra, on October 20, 2021, with ScoopWhoop’s ICC. In it, Bhatia wrote, “Mr Mishra made unwanted, unsolicited, and uncalled [for] sexual advances and sexually predatory behaviour of criminal and civil consequences and is in violation of the law.”
Bhatia filed a lawsuit against Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar, Mishra’s wife and co-founder of ScoopWhoop, in November. He accused Mishra of violating the Indian Penal Code sections 377 and 354A, which deal with unnatural offences and sexual harassment, and Tikekar of abetment under sections 108 and 116.
Last month, Bhatia, 28, claimed on Instagram that he had been assaulted while working at ScoopWhoop, which was the first hint that something was not right. On February 7th, Bhatia wrote a fresh post, this time with more details. Mishra, 35, was the man who sexually assaulted Bhatia, he said. In his post, he wrote, “I was sexually assaulted by the CEO of ScoopWhoop Pvt Ltd, Sattvik Mishra. I have been denied my truth and punished for just wanting to live my life.”
In January of this year, ScoopWhoop seeker legal hell. Days after Bhatia’s first Instagram post, WhoopScoop Media Private Limited, a spin-off of ScoopWhoop, went to court to seek a permanent and interim injunction to keep Bhatia’s allegations from becoming public. It stated that a “Grievance Committee” was hearing the “dispute” between Bhatia and Mishra and that making the claims public would destroy ScoopWhoop’s name and goodwill.
The Patiala House court however denied the injunction for the first time on January 22, 2022. The investigation has not come to a conclusion yet.
Bhatia told Newslaundry that on the evening of October 7, 2021, Mishra, Bhatia and other Avalok Langer, who is the creative director of ScoopWhoop, met in a bar near Mishra’s place, where they drank till midnight having a conversation about ” stake sharing, revenue modelling, compensations, future visions, deliverables, responsibilities” and “full of friendly banter, jokes, internal references, gossips[sic].” At midnight the bar was closer and they were asked by the bar staff to leave. While Langer left for his home, Mishra and Bhatia went to Mishra’s place.
Bhatia told Newslaundry, “At that point of time, there were four members in the house apart from both of us, viz, Ms Sriparna Tikekar (co-founder of the Company and wife of Mr Mishra), their infant daughter…their house-help who opened the door and let both of us in and a cat.”
“I’ve worked with Samdish for six years and I’ve never seen him that upset,” Jaiswal said. “He said he met Sattvik Mishra at the ScoopWhoop office and then they went to a bar, where Avalok [Langer] joined them. Avalok eventually left and Sattvik invited Samdish home to drink more, and when they reached there, he said Sattvik sexually harassed him.”
On Sha’s claim that Bhatia had sought the removal of some ScoopWhoop employees under the influence of alcohol, Bhatia told Newslaundry that these details were not relevant to the sexual harassment complaint. He also alleged that Mishra’s version of events was fabricated.
“I completely stand by my version of events,” Bhatia said. “I think Satwik’s account is very well written. It is openly lying and textbook tampering behaviour.” He added, “I can deny it point by point but I refuse to go down to their level.”
However, he vehemently denied the allegation that he had tried to extort Mishra. According to Bhatia, it was Mishra who offered her money to keep quiet about the alleged sexual harassment. Bhatia said, “He claims that the amount that my lawyer asked from him was actually offered to me for my silence.” “He called my lawyer and made the offer.”
The third hearing in the matter will be held on February 10, when Bhatia will file his reply. His own petition, filed on November 16, 2021, will be heard in the same court on February 24.
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