Citation: (1997) 6 SCC 241
Bench: J.S. Verma C.J., Sujata V. Manohar & B.N. Kirpal JJ.Top of Form
FACTS: In the year 1992, Bhanwari Devi, a village level social worker employed under the Women’s Development Project run by the Government of Rajasthan was brutally raped for her role in attempting to prevent a child marriage from the Gujjar Community. Despite the preferential and derogatory behaviour shown by the Police and doctors, she lodged a complaint and the Trial Court acquitted the accused on lack of sufficient evidence. A wave of social organizations took up her cause, and as a result the Public Interest Litigation was filed.
ISSUES: PIL for the need to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Court recognizing that sexual harassment at workplace is a violation of gender equality enshrined under the Fundamental rights of Article 14, 19 & 21, stated that the availability of a safe working environment at workplace is a necessity.
In an attempt to ensure gender equality among people and ensure there is not discrimination towards women at the workplace, while recognizing the absence of domestic law to curb the evil, it derived the authority from Art. 51 (c) and 253 r/w Entry 14 of the Union List of the seventh schedule of the constitution and put forth various important guidelines to avoid sexual harassment at workplace. These include;
- Sexual Harassment consists of unwelcomed sexually determined behavior as physical sexual contact, sexual favor, sexual remarks, pornographic content and also verbal. Non-verbal conduct of sexual nature
- Sexual Harassment at workplace should be always –informed, produced & circulated
- Whenever a sexual harassment takes place which amounts to a specific offence under law, the employer should take action by complaining about the same to the appropriate authority.
- An appropriate mechanism of prevention should be created for redressal of the complaint.
Not only did the Court exert its power in making mandatory guidelines by stepping into the legislature’s shoes, noticing the lacunae of domestic law, it drew the guidelines from international laws. These guidelines formed the basis of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.