The Honourable Supreme Court of India in a landmark judgement in Vishaka and others Vs State of Rajasthan and others case has formulated the guidelines and norms to be followed against sexual harassment of women at workplace . In the light of above National Commission for Women has issued the following:
Sexual harassment is a serious criminal offense. This can destroy human dignity and freedom. In an effort to promote the well being of all women employees at the workplace, the following code of conduct has been prescribed:
- It shall be the duty of employer to prevent or deter the commission or any act of sexual harassment at the work place
- Sexual harassment will include such unwelcome sexually determined behavior by any person either individually or in association with other persons or any person in authority whether directly or by implication such as:
- Eve teasing
- Unsavoury remarks
- Jokes causing or likely to cause awkwardness or embarrassment
- Innuendoes and taunts
- Gender based Insults or sexist remarks
- Unwelcome sexual overtones in any manner such as over telephone ( obnoxious telephone calls) and the like
- Touching or brushing against any part of the body and the like
- Displaying pornographic or other offensive or derogatory pictures, Cartoons, pamphlets or sayings
- Forcible physical touch or molestation
- Physical confinement against ones will and any other act likely to violate ones privacy
And includes any act or conduct by a person in authority and belonging to one sex which denies or would deny equal opportunity in pursuit of career development or otherwise making the environment at the workplace hostile or intimidating to a person belonging to the other sex only on the ground of sex.
Explanation where any comment, act or conduct is committed against any person and such person has a reasonable apprehension that ,
- It can be humiliating and may constitute health and safety problem or
- It is discriminatory as for instance when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or study including recruitment or promotion or advancement or when it creates a hostile environment
- It would result in adverse consequences if she does not consent to the conduct or raises any objection it shall be deemed to be sexual harassment.
- Eve Teasing:
Eve teasing will include any person willfully and indecently exposing his person in such a manner as to be seen by other employees or use indecent language or behave indecently in a disorderly manner in the workplace. It will also include any work gesture or act intended to insult the molesty of the woman by making any sound or gesture or exhibit any object intending that such a word or sound shall be heard or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such women or intrudes upon the privacy of a woman employee
- Sexual Harassment of an employee means use of authority by any person in charge of the management or any person employed by it to exploit sexuality or sexual identity of a sub ordinate employee who harass her in a manner which prevents or impairs employee’s full utilization of employment benefits or opportunities. It also includes behavior that covertly or overtly uses the power inherent in the status of the employer or the head of the Institution or management to affect negatively an employee’s work experience or career opportunity and/or to threaten , coerce or intimidate an employee to accept sexual advances or making employment decisions affecting the individual or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
- Appropriate working conditions should be provided in respect of work, leisure, health and hygiene to ensure that there is no hostile environment towards woman at the workplace and no woman employee should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment in that organization.
- Women employees should not be treated as sex objects
- No male employee shall outrage or insult the modesty of a female employee at the work place
- No male employee shall make any type of sexual advances to woman colleagues or woman subordinates.
- Conducting Enquiry by the Complaints Committee:
- Any person aggrieved shall prefer a complaint before the complaints committee at the earliest point of time and in any case within 15 days from the date of occurrence of the alleged incident
- The complaint shall contain all the material and relevant details concerning the alleged sexual harassment including the names of the contravenor and the complaint shall be addressed to the Complaints committee.
- If the complainant feels that she cannot disclose her identity for any particular reasons, the complainant shall address the complaint to the head of the organization and hand over the same in person or in a sealed cover. Upon receipt of such complaint, the Head of the organization shall retain the original complaint with himself and send to the Complaints committees gist of the complaint containing all the materials and relevant details other than the name of the complainant and other details which might disclose the identity of the Complainant.
- Workers Initiative: Employees should be allowed to raise issues of sexual harassment at workers meeting and in other appropriate for and it should be affirmatively discussed in periodical employer-employee meetings.
- Third party harassment: where Sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider ,the employer and the persons in charge shall take all the steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.
Nothing contained in this code shall prejudice any right available to the employee or prevent any person from seeking any legal remedy under the Nation Commission for Women Act 1990 Protection of Human Rights Commission Act 1993 or under any other law for the time being in force. Where such conduct amounts to a specific offense under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, the employer shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority. In particular it should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment. The victims of sexual harassment should have the option to seek the transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.