The Delhi High Court has held that there’s “absolutely nothing” that limits the scope of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (SHW Act), to cases the place a girl worker is sexually harassed by one other worker working in her personal workplace or division, but in addition extends to cases the place the delinquent worker is employed elsewhere.
The court docket stated equalising of sexes in each side of life is a constitutional crucial and the working setting is required to be as secure and safe for ladies as it’s for males. “Even an apprehension, by a woman, that her safety might be compromised or endangered in the workplace is, therefore, abhorrent to our constitutional ethos,” it stated.
A bench of Justices C Hari Shankar and Manoj Jain upheld an order handed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that had dismissed an IRS officer’s plea difficult the jurisdiction of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) issuing him a discover, asking him to seem earlier than it in relation to a sexual harassment criticism made towards him by a girl officer.
“There is totally nothing in the SHW Act which limits its scope solely to cases the place a girl worker is sexually harassed by one other worker working in her personal workplace, and excepts its software the place the delinquent worker is employed elsewhere. The tribunal (CAT) has additionally held so, and we utterly agree.
“We have, nonetheless, perused the provisions invoked by … (the petitioner officer’s counsel) to discern whether any such exception can be read into the SHW Act by implication and we are convinced that the answer has to be in the negative,” the bench stated.
It additionally agreed with the tribunal that there’s nothing in part 11(1) of the Act that might limit its software solely to cases the place an officer towards whom sexual harassment is being alleged is the worker of the division the place the complainant is working.
“Each and every one of these objectives (of the SHW Act) is, conspicuously, ‘harasser-neutral’. In an era in which — one has to say it as one sees it every day even in the court — women are equalling, if not outnumbering, men in professional achievements, there can be no compromise on any of these objectives,” the court docket stated.
Relying on earlier judgments, the bench stated any interpretation of the provisions of the SHW Act that downplays or impedes the entire achievement and implementation of one or extra of those goals has to be firmly eschewed.
The excessive court docket was listening to a plea moved by a 2010-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer accused of sexually harassing an officer in a special division of a Union ministry.
The girl worker obtained a criticism filed with the ICC of her division after which the officer obtained a discover from the committee, asking him to seem. However, he approached the CAT, questioning the ICC’s jurisdiction to look into the lady’s criticism.
The tribunal dismissed the officer’s plea after which he approached the excessive court docket the place senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj, representing the officer, contended that the SHW Act would apply provided that a girl has allegedly been sexually harassed by a colleague in her personal division.
The petitioner officer claimed that the ICC of a division can’t conduct an inquiry underneath the Act on a criticism from its girl officer towards an worker of one other division as he would not be throughout the disciplinary management of the division the place the complainant is working.
The excessive court docket, nevertheless, stated, “If the submissions of Bhardwaj, weighty though they undoubtedly are, were to be accepted, the position that would emerge is that while a lady officer in a department, who is subjected to sexual harassment by an officer of the same department, would have the right to seek recourse to the SHW Act, no such remedy would be available if the harassment is perpetrated by an officer of another department, solely because he works under another employer and is not subject to the disciplinary control of the department where the complainant is working.”
It added that such an interpretation would strike on the very root of the SHW Act and its ethos and philosophy. “Having perused the provisions on which Bhardwaj has placed reliance, however, we are of the opinion that the SHW Act does not insulate, from action thereunder, men who sexually harass women in offices other than those in which they are themselves working,” the bench stated.
The excessive court docket stated the listening to earlier than the ICC shall happen on Tuesday and granted liberty to the male officer to put ahead a request earlier than the committee to give him extra time to current his case.
(With inputs from PTI)