Vishakha versus State of Rajasthan
(A Landmark Case on the protection of women against sexual harassments faced at workplace)
Citation: (1997) 6 SCC 241; AIR 1997 SC. 3011,
Bench: Cji, Sujata V. Manohar, B. N. Kirpal
No. of Judges: 3
Constitution of India, 1950 (Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 32, 50,51A)
- Bhanwari Devi, who was a social worker (saathin) in Rajasthan was brutally gang raped by a number of upper class men as she had tried to stop a child marriage.
- The incident took place in 1992.
- Bhanwari Devi was determined to get justice so she lodged a case against the offenders.
- However, the accused was acquitted by a trial court.
- Several inspired women’s groups and NGOs to file a petition (Public Interest litigation) in the Supreme Court under the collective platform of Vishakha.
- Whether employer has any responsibility for sexual harassment by its employees.
- Whether employer has any responsibility for sexual harassment to its employees.
Judgement and the Guidelines Issued:
Without domestic legislation to adequately address sexual harassment in the workplace, the Court undertook measures to enforce gender equality and non-discrimination in accordance with universal human rights norms and standards.
- The employer (or other responsible persons) in work places/other institutions are responsible to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment
- They should also provide the procedures for the resolution.
- Defined Sexual harassment as:
- Physical contact and advances.
- Sexually colored remarks.
- Demanding or requesting for sexual favors.
- Showing pornography.
- Any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature may be verbal or non-verbal or physical.
- Employers shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with concerned criminal law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority.
- Disciplinary actions should be taken.
- Threw light on compliance mechanism and workers’ initiative.
- The guidelines laid down by this order are also observed by the employers in Private Sector. Government shall take step in its implementation.
- Harassments by an act or any omission by any third party:
It shall be the duty of employer (and person in charge) to take all necessary and reasonable steps, so as to assist the affected person (in terms of support and preventive action).
- No prejudice of any rights available under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.