Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 13/08/1997

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Sujata V. Manohar, B. N. Kirpal

REFERENCE: AIR 1997 SC 3011

PARTIES

Petitioner: Vishaka

Respondent: State of Rajasthan

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around the need for guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at workplace.

FACTS: The present writ petition was filed due to the brutal gang rape of a social worker in Rajasthan. The petitioner has prayed for guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplace. The petitioners also prayed for the establishment of gender justice at workplace.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

Article 14: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India

ISSUES:

1. Whether there was  a need to consider settled law and guidelines with regard to prevention of sexual harassment at workplace?

JUDGEMENT:

The petitioner contended that,

  • Gender justice is the base for the principle of equality under Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
  • There is a grave need for laws governing sexual harassment at workplace.

The respondents in the present understanding the level of public importance involved in the present case accepted the notice from the Court to take required measures to prevent such inhumane activities in Rajasthan.

Further the Court invoking its power under Article 142 issued guidelines in this matter which will be prevalent unless and until a legislation is passed in that regard. Some of the key points include:

  • Express prohibition of sexual harassment at the workplace should be notified, published and circulated in appropriate ways.
  • The Rules/Regulations of Government and Public Sector bodies relating to conduct and discipline should include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender.
  • As regards private employers steps should be taken to include the aforesaid prohibitions in the standing orders under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
  • Appropriate work conditions should be provided in respect of work, leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at work places and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.

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