The Law against Sexual Harassment in India
- October 26, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
The Law against Sexual Harassment in India
- A single judge bench of Delhi High Court of Justice Sanjeev Narula, in its judgment held that the intent of rule 7(6) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules is to disallow a legal practitioner from representing the parties at any stage of the proceedings.
Supreme Court verdict
Sexual harassment at the workplace is an affront to the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under Articles 14 and 15 and her right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution as well as her right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
What is Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (POSH Act):
- The Supreme Court in a landmark judgement in the Vishakha and others v State of Rajasthan 1997 case gave ‘Vishakhaguidelines’.
- These guidelines formed the basis for theThe Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- It was passed in 2013 and define sexual harassment, by laying down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken.
Defination of Sexual harassment:
- It includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour committed directly or by implication:-
- Physical contact and advances
- A demand or request for sexual favours
- Sexually coloured remarks
- Showing pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
- Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more
- The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
- The Internal Complaint Committees(ICC) has powers similar to those of a civil court in respect of summoning and examining any person on oath, and requiring the discovery and production of documents.
- The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry if requested by the complainant.
- The ICC may either forward the victim’s complaint to the police, or it can start an inquiry that has to be completed within 90 days.
- Technically, it is not compulsory for the aggrieved victim to file a complaint for the ICC to act.
- If the woman cannot complain because of physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise her legal heir may do so.
- The complaint must be made within three months from the date of the incident.
- However, the ICC can extend the time limit if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period.
Possibility of conciliation:
- The ICC may, before inquiry, and at the request of the aggrieved woman, take steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation, provided that no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation.
- Penalties have been prescribed for employers.Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
- Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.
- Compensation is determined based on five aspects:
- Suffering and emotional distress caused to the woman;
- Loss in career opportunity;
- Medical expenses;
- Income and financial status of the respondent; and
- The feasibility of such payment.
Identity;-The identity of the woman, respondent, witness, any information on the inquiry, recommendation and action taken should not be made public.
Appeal:- After the recommendations, the aggrieved woman or the respondent can appeal in court within 90 days.
False complaints:-Section 14 of the Act provides that the ICC may recommend to the employer to take action against the person who has made the malicious complaint and false evidence.
- Domestic workers are separately defined under Section 2(e) of the POSH Act.
What was Vishaka guidelines:
- The Vishaka guidelines were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in
- This was in a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka.
- The guidelines defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions prohibition, prevention, redress.
- The Supreme Court directed that they should establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
- It was a legally binding obligation