The National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikaar Bhavan
C-Block, GPO Complex
September 18, 2014
Subject: Request for display of relevant information regarding the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in the work-places
Although nearly 17 years have passed since the celebrated Vishaka guidelines were issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on sexual harassment at work-place and nearly 9 months since the enforcement of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, it has been observed that there is very little awareness across the country on the women’s right to protection against sexual harassment at work-place and accordingly, little has so far been achieved in the direction of elimination of this evil. It would not be an exaggeration to say that even the legal fraternity in general is more or less equally uninformed about the provisions of this Act. It cannot be disputed that the right to protection against sexual harassment at work-place flows from the basic human rights to life and liberty, gender equality and freedom to practice one’s occupation.
Section 19 (b) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides that every employer shall display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassment and the order constituting the internal complaints committee. However, the compliance of this mandate so far is extremely rare.
In order to afford better protection to women from sexual harassment at workplace and more effectively implement the Act, it is desirable that the relevant information regarding the provisions of the Act, is prominently displayed at all the work-places covered under this Act across the country. This should include a compliance of the mandate of Section 19 (b) and other relevant information which may be necessary and useful for exercising the right to protection guaranteed under this Act.
It is suggested that the information should address at least the following basic queries:
· What amounts to sexual harassment under the Act?
· Who can complain under the Act?
· Against whom can the complaint be made?
· To whom is the complaint to be made?
· What are the rights of the woman who makes such a complaint?
You are humbly requested to consider the issue and direct all the States/UTs to ensure that the relevant information regarding the provisions of the Act is prominently displayed at all the work-places falling under the ambit of this Act.
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Advisor, Social Jurist