sc-comes-down-on-sexual-harassment-at-workplace-summary

Supreme court judgement on a complaint filed by a senior Scale IV officer of the Punjab and Sind Bank, which narrates the ordeal of her malafide transfer and also sexual harassment at the workplace.

More on SC Ruling

  1. The court ruled that Sexual harassment of women at workplace is an offence to their fundamental right to equality under article 14 and 15 and a life with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
    1. It also stands in contravention to her right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.
  2. On transfer postings, the court ruled that employees cannot exercise a choice of postings unless it is found to be malafide.
    1. However, the SC sided with the ruling of State high court’s decision to quash her transfer as it was found to be without authority.
  3. The court also referred to the Sexual Harassment of  Women at Workplace Act of 2013, affirming its role in providing protection to Women at the workplace.

The Judgement that changed the course for women in India

Vishaka & Ors vs State Of Rajasthan & Ors 

  1. On August 13, 1997, the Supreme Court commissioned the Vishaka guidelines that defined sexual harassment and put the onus on the employers to provide a safe working environment for women.
  2. The Vishaka Guidelines were a set of procedural guidelines for use in India in cases of

sexual harassment. 

  1. They were promulgated by the Indian Supreme Court in 1997 and were superseded in 2013 by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Important provisions of Vishakha guidelines:

The Vishaka guidelines define as sexual harassment any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication). These are:

  • 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 a sexual nature.

Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) At the workplace, 2013

  1. It widens the definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ to include all women, irrespective of age and employment status, and it covers clients, customers and domestic workers.
  2. It expands ‘workplace’ beyond traditional offices to include all kinds of organisations across sectors, even non-traditional workplaces (for example those that involve telecommuting) and places visited by employees for work.
  3. It mandates the constitution of the internal complaint committee (ICC) — and states the action to be taken if an ICC is not formed — and the filing of an audit report of the number of complaints and action taken at the end of the year.
  4. It lists the duties of the employer, like organising regular workshops and awareness programmes to educate employees about the Act.
  5. If the employer fails to constitute an ICC or does not abide by any other provision, they must pay a fine of up to ₹50,000. 
    1. If the offender is a repeat offender, the fine gets doubled. 
    2. The second offence can also lead to cancellation or non-renewal of his licence.

Also readNeed Inquisitorial System Of Trial In Sexual Assault Cases

Framework To Prevent Sexual Harassment At The Workplace