NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to Centre and states on a petition highlighting sexual harassment of women at workplaces despite Parliament enacting a law to check it in 2013. The law was constituted following the Supreme Court verdict in August 1997 in the Vishaka Ghosh murder case and had laid down detailed guidelines for setting up of internal complaints committee headed by a woman in every government and private organisation to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the Centre and states to respond to the PIL by NGO Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation, which sought implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013.
The bench sought reports on constitution of committees and the mechanism to monitor implementation of the law and fixed the hearing after four weeks. Appearing on behalf of the NGO, its trustees Pallavi Pareek and Esha Shekhar and advocate Sanjay Parikh complained that the Act was not being implemented and told the bench that the local district officers and complaints committees were not being appointed and victims had no legal forums to go to with their complaints.
“The entire process that is required to enforce the law includes internal complaint committee in each organisation be it a government body or a private entity, setting up of local complaint committee (LCC), designation of a District Magistrate as a district officer to exercise powers under the Act, and the appointment of nodal officers,” Parikh added.
Parikh said that though four years have passed since Parliament passed the Bill, the entire structure that has to operationalise it remains non-functional.
The law requires workplaces to form Internal Complaints Committees to hear cases of sexual harassment at work. For workplaces with fewer than 10 employees, or when the employer is an accused, district officers have to form local committees to receive the complaints under the law’s Section 6.