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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 18:42 GMT
IT giant faces India legal action
By Habib Beary
BBC News, Bangalore

Hewlett Packard logo
Hewlett Packard denies a security lapse
Computer giant Hewlett Packard is facing legal action in India after the rape and murder of a female employee.

Pratibha Srikanthmurthy, 24, who worked in a Hewlett Packard Globalsoft call centre in Bangalore, was killed on her way to a night shift last month.

Karnataka state government officials say an inquiry found security lapses on the part of the company.

The company denies negligence. A cab driver who gave a lift to the victim has been arrested for her murder.

The attack has sent shockwaves through the city's IT community.

'Failed to act'

The southern city of Bangalore is known as India's IT and call centre hub and it is common for women to work on night and late shifts.

Call centre in Bangalore
Bangalore is at the heart of India's new economy

Additional labour commissioner S Narasimhaiah told the BBC that a case had been filed against Hewlett Packard Globalsoft under the state's Shops and Commercial Establishments Act.

Under the law, it is mandatory for employers to provide for the safety and security of women employees.

Police say the driver told Pratibha he had been sent to pick her up by the company.

According to police, he said he had driven her and other company staff before.

Police say the firm's helpdesk failed to act despite being informed by the driver who had been assigned the job that she had left for work in another cab.

Hewlett Packard denies negligence, saying the driver accused of the murder was not an employee of the company.

Bangalore police commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh recently told IT companies in the city to ensure that women employees were never left alone in cabs at night.

They should not be picked up first or dropped off last, he said, warning firms that the onus of providing security for staff was on them.

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