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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 6:46 PM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 8:59 PM (IST)

Sexual harassment at workplace law: SC notice to Centre, states

Sexual harassment at workplace law: SC notice to Centre, states
Photo for representation only. Source: iStock

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and states on a petition highlighting sexual harassment of women at workplace despite Parliament enacting a law to check the menace in 2013. 

Petitioner NGO—Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation has sought implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013. 

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the Centre and states to respond to the PIL in four weeks. 

On behalf of the NGO’s trustees Pallavi Pareek and Esha Shekhar, advocate Sanjay Parikh complained that the Act was not being implemented in letter and spirit.

He said local district officers and complaints committees were not being appointed and victims had no legal forums to go to with their complaints. 

In its August 13, 1997 verdict, the Supreme Court had in the Vishaka case laid down detailed guidelines for setting up of internal complaints committee headed by a woman in every government and private organisation to deal with complaints of sexual harassment at workplace. 

But after the enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act in 2013, the SC’s Vishaka guidelines ceased to exist. The Act, which replaced the top court’s guidelines, is more elaborate and covers unorganised sector and domestic workers. 

The Act provides for setting up of internal complaints committee, appointment of district officers, constitution of a local complaints committee and nodal officers. 

It also expands the definition of “workplace” to include many public and private places such as stadiums, sports institutes and even houses. Any public or private organisation, including educational institutions employing more than 10 persons are covered under the Act. 

In case of organisations employing less than 10 persons, complaints can be lodged with local complaints committees to be set up at district level. 

The Act defines “sexual harassment” as any unwanted physical contact or advances, demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography or any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. 

But the petitioner complained that the Act was not being implemented properly.

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