Supreme Court condemns bureaucracy in sexual harassment cases
Don’t make the process a punishment for the victims, the court said.
The right against sexual harassment in the workplace is part of the fundamental right to a life of dignity and it takes a lot of courage for a subordinate to overcome the fear of speaking out against an obscene superior, the Supreme Court has ruled in a ruling.
Bench led by Judge DY Chandrachud said courts should not be ‘hyper-technical’ when dealing with sexual harassment cases, and be aware of the odds a survivor must overcome to bring misconduct to light sexual.
“It’s important to be aware of the power dynamics that get bogged down in sexual harassment in the workplace. There are several considerations and deterrents that a subordinate aggrieved by sexual harassment must face when considering reporting sexual misconduct by their supervisor, ”Judge Chandrachud wrote.
The judgment highlighted a growing trend towards overturning investigative procedures for sexual misconduct on “hypertechnical interpretations of applicable rules of service”.
Sometimes the court turns court proceedings into a penalty in cases falling under the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Act 2013.
This law is a transformative law, which penalizes many misconduct of a sexual nature and imposes a mandate on public and private organizations to create adequate mechanisms of redress.
“It is important that the courts respect the spirit of the law against sexual harassment, which is conferred on all people as part of their right to life and dignity under article 21 of the Constitution”, pointed out the Supreme Court.
The case concerned an appeal against a decision by the Calcutta High Court to quash sexual harassment proceedings initiated over a complaint by a BSF officer against his supervisor.