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VISHAKA & OTHERS V. State of Rajasthan

CASESTUDY :  VISHAKA & OTHERS V. State of Rajasthan

VISHAKA & ORS V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN is a landmark case, decided by supreme court, which deals with the Sexual harassment of women at workplace. This case is decided by bench of judges of: CJI, Sujata V. Manohar, B.N Kirpal. Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcomed sexual behavior that’s offensive, undignified, humiliating or intimidating. This can be either in a way of written or spoken, and also may result into physical and can happen in person or online.

FACTS OF THE CASE

A 50 year old social worker/activist  named  Bhawari who used to live in a village of Rajasthan and worked under social development program at rural level organized by State government, was gang raped by Ramkaran Gujjar and his five friends in front of his husband just because she wanted to stop the marriage of Ramkaran Gujjar’s daughter who was merely less than one year old, it means she was just infant.

In hope of justice she filed a case against Ramkaran Gujjar & his friends in court, but Trial Court held all the accused people not guilty, because other authorities like doctors and police denied her condition. A male doctor at the main primary care center refused the test, and the doctor in Jaipur just confirmed her age without mentioning that she was raped in her medical report. Even women constable at the police station continuously taunted her whole midnight, and after that, police asked her to leave ‘lehnga’ as an evidence of that incident & go back.

This decision of the court led, collective group of women & non- governmental organization motivated to file a petition in supreme court. In their petition, they demanded justice for Bhawari Devi and take action against sexual harassment at workplace.

ISSUE OF THE CASE

Should policies be introduced to end sexual harassment of women at workplace ?

JUDGEMENT

Chief justice J.S Verma has conveyed the judgement of Vishakha’s case as a representative of Justice Sujata Manihar and Justice B.N Kripal. The court observed that the fundamental rights under Article 14(2), 19(3)(1)(g) and 21(4) of the constitution of India provides every profession, trade or occupation should provide safe working environment to the employees. It hampered the right to life and the right to live a dignified life. The basic requirement was that there should be the availability of safe working environment at workplace.

The supreme court held that, women have fundamental right towards the freedom of sexual harassment at workplace, and put forward various important guidelines for the sexual harassment of women at workplace.

 Guidelines were as following:

  • It is the Duty of the employer to provide rules and regulations regarding protection of women from sexual harassment in code of conduct of company.
  • It is duty of the employer to establish a committee to be known as the “complaint committee”. And committee must have a women employed at senior level.
  • Disciplinary action should be taken against the violation and the victim’s interest should be protected.
  • Women employees should be made aware of their rights.

Before 1997, any aggrieved women of sexual harassment at workplace used to lodge complaints under section 354 and 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Later as per mentioned decision in case of Vishkha, the grievance committee has the actual authority and legal status.

After judgement of Vishakha’s case, and after several formats of bill on 10 November 2010, The bill of protection of women from sexual harassment has been passed. Matter of fact is that bill not only provides protection to women employees at workplace, but also who enters as a volunteer, apatis, daily wage labor. Students in college residence, patients in hospitals and research scholar in research center were also included. Vishaka directions are still in work for fine implementation as a mechanism to solve these problem.

Central department of personnel and training (DOPT) issued new guidelines related to sexual harassment of women at workplace (prohibition and protection) Act, 2013

KEY FACTS

  • According to the new guidelines issued by the central government, women at the workplace will receive brief details about the implementation of the atrocities of the act and number of cases to be dealt with will also included.
  • All ministries, department and authorities shall form it’s a part of the annual report.
  • According to new guidelines of the Sexual Harassment Of Women At Work Place act 2019 redressal of grievance must be within 30 days and in special circumstances period can be extended to 90 days from the date of receipt of the complaint.
  • It must be monitored by the officials that the complainant must not be harassed in any manner after making the complaint.
  • If the victim feels that she is being harassed after the complaint, then there must be an option by which she can complain to head of the organization.
  • Within 15 days, after the receipt of the complaint, the concerned officer must provide remedy to the victim.
  • Monthly progress report by all ministries / department must be submitted to ministry of women and child development.
  • According to Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, women and child development ministry will always work on the issues related to safety of women at workplace.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT  AT WORK PLACE

Sexual harassment at workplace means, unwanted direct or indirect sexual contact, comment, or conduct against female co-worker. The supreme court of India defined ‘sexual harassment at workplace’ in case of Visakha v. state of Rajasthan.

Any type of disapproved, sexually determined behavior (direct or under pressure) physical contact or offer, request or request for indulgence, obscene and indecent remarks, obscene literature or other unpleasant physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature is included in definition of sexual harassment.

LAW PROVIDES HOW TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE

  • Until 2013, sexual harassment at the workplace was not a special crime category.
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860, was referred for the cases related to the sexual harassment of work place and there was no separate section for the same.
  • In Indian Penal Code, 1860, sexual harassment was defined and punished under section 354, of Indian Penal Code.

Vishaka guidelines for sexual harassment at workplace

In the year 1997, supreme court in case of Vishaka v. state of Rajasthan, recognized the defect in Indian Penal Code and detected the way of tackle for the same and gave a historic decision.

Sexual harassment of women at workplace (protection and prevention) Act, 2013, came into effect on 9 December 2013.

In line with its name, its objective clarifies as prevention and prohibition against sexual harassment and in case of its violation, it also works to provide redress to the victim. This act would abide by almost all guidelines given in the vishaka case. It also contain other provision like : providing civil court power of gathering evidence  to complaint’s committee.

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