Friday, 12 September 2014

sexual harassment cases guideline by supreme court of india in vishaka judgement.

The Vishaka[1] judgment came on 13.8.1997. Yet,15 years after the guidelines were laid down by this Court for the prevention and redressal of sexual harassment and their due compliance under Article 141 of the Constitution of India until such time appropriate legislation was enacted by the Parliament, many women still struggle to have their most basic rights protected at workplaces. The statutory law is not in place. The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010 is still pending in Parliament though Lok Sabha is said to have passed that Bill in the first week of September, 2012. The belief of the Constitution framers
sector. 12. These guidelines will not prejudice any rights available under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. 5. In these matters while highlighting few individual cases of sexual harassment at the workplaces, the main focus is on the lack of effective implementation of Vishaka guidelines. It is stated that the attitude of neglect in establishing effective and comprehensive mechanism in letter and spirit of the Vishaka guidelines by the States as well as the employers in private and public sector has defeated the very objective and purpose of the guidelines. 6. In one of these matters, Medha Kotwal Lele, this Court has passed certain orders from time to time. Notices were issued to all the State Governments. The States have filed their responses. On 26.4.2004, after hearing the learned Attorney General and learned counsel for the States, this Court directed as follows : “Complaints Committee as envisaged by the Supreme Court in its judgment in Vishaka’s case will be deemed to be an inquiry authority for the purposes of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 (hereinafter called CCS Rules) and the report of the complaints Committee shall be deemed to be an inquiry report under
(ii) Wide publicity be given every month on Doordarshan Station, Sikkim about various steps taken by the State Government for implementation of the guidelines framed in Vishaka’s case and the directions given in Medha Kotwal’s case. (iii) Social Welfare Department and the Legal Service Authority of the State of Sikkim shall also give wide publicity to the notifications and orders issued by the State Government not only for the Government departments of the State and its agencies/instrumentalities
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                                                                  REPORTABLE




                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       ORIGINAL/APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NOS. 173-177 OF 1999

Medha Kotwal Lele and Others                           …… Petitioners

                   Vs.

Union of India and Others                                 ……Respondents


                                    WITH
                           T.C. (C) NO. 21 OF 2001
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5009 OF 2006
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5010 OF 2006

                                  JUDGMENT

R.M. LODHA, J.

            The Vishaka[1]   judgment came on 13.8.1997. Yet,15 years  after
the guidelines  were  laid  down  by  this  Court  for  the  prevention  and
redressal of sexual harassment and their due compliance  under  Article  141
of the Constitution of India until such  time  appropriate  legislation  was
enacted by the Parliament, many women still  struggle  to  have  their  most
basic rights protected at workplaces. The statutory law  is  not  in  place.
The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place  Bill,  2010
is still pending in Parliament though Lok Sabha is said to have passed  that
Bill in the first week of September, 2012.   The belief of the  Constitution
framers in fairness and justice for women is yet to  be  fully  achieved  at
the workplaces in the country.
2.          This group of four matters – in the nature  of  public  interest
litigation – raises principally the grievance  that  women  continue  to  be
victims of sexual harassment at workplaces. The guidelines in  Vishaka1  are
followed in breach in substance and spirit by state  functionaries  and  all
other concerned.  The women workers  are  subjected  to  harassment  through
legal and extra legal methods  and  they  are  made  to  suffer  insult  and
indignity.
3.           Beijing  Declaration  and  Platform  for  Action,  inter  alia,
states, “Violence against women both violates and impairs or  nullifies  the
enjoyment by women of  human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms…….  In  all
societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are  subjected  to
physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines  of  income,
class and culture”.
4.          Vishaka guidelines require the employers at workplaces  as  well
as other responsible persons or institutions  to observe  them   and  ensure
the prevention of sexual harassment  to  women.  These  guidelines  read  as
under :
           “1. Duty  of  the  employer  or  other  responsible  persons  in
           workplaces and other institutions:
           It shall be the  duty  of  the  employer  or  other  responsible
           persons in workplaces or other institutions to prevent or  deter
           the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to  provide  the
           procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts
           of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.
           2. Definition:
           For this purpose,  sexual  harassment  includes  such  unwelcome
           sexually  determined   behaviour   (whether   directly   or   by
           implication) as:
                 (a)   physical contact and advances;
                 (b)   a demand or request for sexual favours;
                 (c)   sexually-coloured remarks;
                 (d)   showing pornography;
                 (e)   any other unwelcome physical, verbal  or  non-verbal
           conduct of sexual nature.
           Where any of these acts is committed in circumstances whereunder
           the victim of such conduct has a reasonable apprehension that in
           relation to the victim's  employment  or  work  whether  she  is
           drawing  salary,  or  honorarium  or   voluntary,   whether   in
           government, public or private enterprise  such  conduct  can  be
           humiliating and may constitute a health and safety  problem.  It
           is discriminatory for instance when  the  woman  has  reasonable
           grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her  in
           connection with her employment or work including  recruiting  or
           promotion or when it creates a hostile work environment. Adverse
           consequences might be visited if the victim does not consent  to
           the conduct in question or raises any objection thereto.
           3. Preventive steps:
           All employers or persons in charge of workplace whether  in  the
           public or  private  sector  should  take  appropriate  steps  to
           prevent sexual harassment. Without prejudice to  the  generality
           of this obligation they should take the following steps:
           (a) Express prohibition of sexual harassment as defined above at
           the workplace should be notified, published  and  circulated  in
           appropriate ways.
           (b) 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.
           (c) 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.
           (d) 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  workplaces  and  no
           woman employee should have reasonable grounds  to  believe  that
           she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.
           4. Criminal proceedings:
           Where such conduct amounts  to  a  specific  offence  under  the
           Indian Penal Code or under any other  law,  the  employer  shall
           initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by  making  a
           complaint with the appropriate authority.
           In particular, it should ensure that victims, or  witnesses  are
           not victimized  or  discriminated  against  while  dealing  with
           complaints  of  sexual  harassment.  The   victims   of   sexual
           harassment should have  the  option  to  seek  transfer  of  the
           perpetrator or their own transfer.
           5. Disciplinary action:
           Where such  conduct  amounts  to  misconduct  in  employment  as
           defined by the relevant service rules, appropriate  disciplinary
           action should be initiated by the employer  in  accordance  with
           those rules.
           6. Complaint mechanism:
           Whether or not such conduct constitutes an offence under law  or
           a  breach  of  the  service  rules,  an  appropriate   complaint
           mechanism should be created in the employer's  organization  for
           redress of the complaint made  by  the  victim.  Such  complaint
           mechanism should ensure time-bound treatment of complaints.
           7. Complaints Committee:
           The complaint mechanism, referred to in  (6)  above,  should  be
           adequate to provide, where necessary, a Complaints Committee,  a
           special counsellor  or  other  support  service,  including  the
           maintenance of confidentiality.
           The Complaints Committee should be headed by  a  woman  and  not
           less than half of its  members  should  be  women.  Further,  to
           prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence  from
           senior levels, such Complaints Committee should involve a  third
           party, either NGO or other body who is familiar with  the  issue
           of sexual harassment.
           The Complaints Committee must  make  an  annual  report  to  the
           Government Department concerned of  the  complaints  and  action
           taken by them.
           The employers and  person-in-charge  will  also  report  on  the
           compliance  with  the  aforesaid  guidelines  including  on  the
           reports  of  the  Complaints   Committee   to   the   Government
           Department.
           8. Workers' initiative:
           Employees should be allowed to raise issues of sexual harassment
           at workers' meeting and in other appropriate forum and it should
           be affirmatively discussed in employer-employee meetings.
           9. Awareness:
           Awareness of the rights  of  female  employees  in  this  regard
           should be created in particular  by  prominently  notifying  the
           guidelines (and appropriate  legislation  when  enacted  on  the
           subject) in a suitable manner.
           10. Third-party harassment:
           Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission
           by any third party or  outsider,  the  employer  and  person-in-
           charge will take all steps necessary and  reasonable  to  assist
           the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.
           11. The Central/State  Governments  are  requested  to  consider
           adopting suitable measures including legislation to ensure  that
           the guidelines laid down by this order are also observed by  the
           employers in private sector.
           12. These guidelines will not  prejudice  any  rights  available
           under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.”





5.          In these matters while  highlighting  few  individual  cases  of
sexual harassment at the workplaces, the  main  focus  is  on  the  lack  of
effective implementation of Vishaka  guidelines.   It  is  stated  that  the
attitude of neglect in establishing effective  and  comprehensive  mechanism
in letter and spirit of the Vishaka  guidelines by the  States  as  well  as
the employers in private and public sector has defeated the  very  objective
and purpose of the guidelines.
6.          In one of these matters,  Medha  Kotwal  Lele,  this  Court  has
passed certain orders from time to time. Notices  were  issued  to  all  the
State Governments. The States have filed their  responses.   On   26.4.2004,
after hearing the learned Attorney  General  and  learned  counsel  for  the
States, this Court directed as follows :
           “Complaints Committee as envisaged by the Supreme Court  in  its
           judgment in Vishaka’s case  will be  deemed  to  be  an  inquiry
           authority for the purposes of Central Civil  Services  (Conduct)
           Rules, 1964 (hereinafter called CCS Rules) and the report of the
           complaints Committee shall be deemed to  be  an  inquiry  report
           under the CCS Rules. Thereafter the disciplinary authority  will
           act on the report  in accordance with the rules.”




This Court further directed  in  the  order  dated  26.4.2004  that  similar
amendment shall be  carried  out  in  the  Industrial  Employment  (Standing
Orders)   Rules.   As   regards   educational   institutions    and    other
establishments, the Court observed that further directions would  be  issued
subsequently.
7.          On 17.1.2006, this Court in couple of these matters  passed  the
following order:

           “These matters relate to the complaints of sexual harassment  in
           working places. In Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan, (1997)   6SCC
           241, this Court issued certain directions  as  to  how  to  deal
           with  the  problem.   All  the  States  were  parties  to   that
           proceedings.  Now, it appears  that  the  directions  issued  in
           Vishaka case  were  not  properly  implemented  by  the  various
           States/Departments/Institutions.  In a rejoinder affidavit filed
           on behalf of the petitioners, the details have  been  furnished.
           The counsel appearing for the States submit that they  would  do
           the needful at the earliest.
           It is not known whether the Committees as suggested  in  Vishaka
           case have been constituted in all  the  Departments/Institutions
           having members of the staff 50 and above  and  in  most  of  the
           District level offices in all the States members  of  the  staff
           working in some offices would be more than 50.  It is not  known
           whether the Committees as envisaged in  the  Vishaka  case  have
           been constituted in all these offices.  The number of complaints
           received and the steps taken in these complaints  are  also  not
           available.    We find it necessary to give some more  directions
           in this regard.
           We find that in order to co-ordinate the  steps  taken  in  this
           regard, there should be a State level officer, i.e., either  the
           Secretary of the Woman and Child Welfare Department or any other
           suitable officer who is in charge and concerned with the welfare
           of women and children in each State.  The Chief  Secretaries  of
           each State shall see that an officer is  appointed  as  a  nodal
           agent to collect the details and  to  give  suitable  directions
           whenever necessary.
           As regards factories, shops and  commercial  establishments  are
           concerned, the directions are  not  fully  complied  with.   The
           Labour Commissioner of each  State  shall  take  steps  in  that
           direction.  They shall work as nodal agency  as  regards  shops,
           factories, shops and commercial  establishments  are  concerned.
           They shall also collect the details regarding the complaints and
           also see that the required  Committee  is  established  in  such
           institutions.
           Counsel appearing for each State shall furnish the  details   as
           to what steps have been taken in  pursuance  of  this  direction
           within a period of eight weeks.  Details  may  be  furnished  as
           shown  in  the  format  furnished  by  the  petitioners  in  the
           paperbooks.  A copy of this format shall form part of the order.
            The above facts are required at the next date  of  hearing.   A
           copy of this order be sent to  the  Chief  Secretary  and  Chief
           Labour Commissioner of each State for taking suitable action.”




8.           From  the  affidavits  filed  by  the  State  Governments   the
following position emerges in respect of each of these States:
GOA
      The amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules and   the  Standing
Orders have not been made so far.

GUJARAT
      No amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules  and   the  Standing
Orders have been  made  so  far.  It  is  not  stated  that  all  Complaints
Committees are headed by women.  There is no information given   whether  in
such committees NGO members have been associated.
NCT OF DELHI
      The amendments in the Civil Services Conduct  Rules  have  been  made.
The   position  about  amendments  in  the  Standing  Orders  has  not  been
clarified.  It has not been specified that  all  Complaints  Committees  are
headed by women.
HIMACHAL PRADESH
      There is nothing to indicate that the State of  Himachal  Pradesh  has
made amendments in  the  Civil  Services  Conduct  Rules  and  the  Standing
Orders. No details of formation of Complaints Committees have been given.

HARYANA
      The amendments in the Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1966  have
been made.  However, it is  not specified that the  amendments  in  Standing
Orders have been made.

MAHARASHTRA
      Necessary amendments in Maharashtra Civil  Services  (Conduct)  Rules,
1974 have been made.  The Labour Commissioner has taken steps  for  amending
Mumbai Industrial Employment (Permanent Orders) Rules, 1959.
MIZORAM
      The State of Mizoram has amended Civil Services Conduct Rules and also
constituted Central Complaints Committee to look into complaints  pertaining
to cases of sexual  harassment  of  working  women  at  all  workplaces  for
preservation  and  enforcement.  A  notification  has  been  issued   giving
necessary directions to all private bodies.
SIKKIM
      The amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules have  been  carried
out and a notification  has  been  issued  for  constitution  of  complaints
committees by departments/institutions with 50 or above staff to  look  into
sexual harassment of women at workplaces.

UTTARANCHAL
      The State of Uttaranchal has carried out amendments in Civil  Services
Conduct Rules as well as the Standing Orders. The District Level  and  State
Level Complaints Committees have been constituted.
WEST BENGAL
       The  amendments  in  the  Rules  relating  to  duties,   rights   and
obligations of government employees have been made.  The amendments  in  the
Standing Orders have been carried out.  Out of 56 departments of  Government
of West Bengal, Complaints Committees have been  formed  in  48  departments
and out of 156 Directorates under  the  Government,   Complaints  Committees
have  been  formed  in  34  Directorates.   Of  24  institutions  under  the
Government, Complaints Committees have been formed in 6.
MADHYA PRADESH
      Although State of Madhya Pradesh has  made  amendments  in  the  Civil
Services Conduct Rules but no amendments have  been  made  in  the  Standing
Orders. The Complaints Committees have been constituted in every  office  of
every department right  from  the  Head  of  the  Department  level  to  the
District  and  Taluka  level.  The  District  Level  Committees  have   been
constituted under the chairmanship of  the  District  Collector.  The  steps
taken by the District Committees are monitored by the nodal departments.
PUNJAB
      The State of Punjab has carried out amendments in the  Civil  Services
Conduct Rules as well as the Standing Orders. 70 Complaints Committees  have
been constituted at  the  headquarters  of  different  Directorates  and  58
Complaints Committees have been constituted in various Field Offices.
ORISSA
      No amendments in the Civil Services Conduct  Rules  and  the  Standing
Orders have been made.
ANDHRA PRADESH
       Amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules and  in  the  Standing
Orders have been made.
KARNATAKA
      The amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules have been  made  by
the State of Karnataka but no amendments have  been  made  in  the  Standing
Orders. It is stated that in most of the committees,  the  number  of  women
members is above 50%.  The  Chairpersons  are  women  and  in  most  of  the
committees, an outside member, i.e., an NGO has been associated.
RAJASTHAN
      The State of  Rajasthan  has  carried  out  amendments  in  the  Civil
Services Conduct Rules but no  amendments  have  been  carried  out  in  the
Standing Orders.
BIHAR
      The State of Bihar has made amendments in the Civil  Services  Conduct
Rules but there is nothing to show that amendments in Standing  Orders  have
been made.  However,  only one Complaints  Committee  has  been  constituted
for the entire State.
MEGHALAYA
      The State of Meghalaya has  neither  carried  out  amendments  in  the
Civil Services Conduct Rules nor in the Standing Orders.
TRIPURA
      The State of Tripura has carried  out  the  amendments  in  the  Civil
Services Conduct Rules. There are no  Standing  Orders  applicable  in   the
State. 97 Complaints Committees have been constituted in most of  the  state
government departments and organisations.
ASSAM
      Amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules have been made  but  no
amendments have been carried out in the Standing Orders.
MANIPUR
      The State of Manipur has carried out amendments in the Civil  Services
Conduct  Rules,  but  no  definite  information  has  been  given  regarding
amendments in the Standing Orders.  Only one Complaints Committee  has  been
formed for the entire State.
UTTAR PRADESH
      Amendments both in the Civil Services Conduct Rules and  the  Standing
Orders have been carried out.

JAMMU AND KASHMIR
      The State of Jammu and Kashmir  has  carried  out  amendments  in  the
Civil Services Conduct Rules.  It is stated that steps are being  taken  for
 amendments  in the Standing Orders.

NAGALAND
      The amendments have been carried out in  the  Civil  Services  Conduct
Rules by the State of Nagaland but no amendments have been  carried  out  in
the Standing Orders.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH
      The State of Arunachal Pradesh has neither carried out  amendments  in
the Civil Services Conduct Rules nor in the Standing Orders. There  is  only
one State Level Committee for the entire State of Arunachal Pradesh.


KERALA
      Amendments in the Civil Services Conduct Rules and   in  the  Standing
Orders have been carried out. There are  52  Complaints  Committees  in  the
State. All such committees are headed by women  and  50%  members  of  these
committees are women and there is representation of  NGO  members  in  these
committees.



TAMILNADU
      The State of Tamil Nadu  has  carried  out  amendments  in  the  Civil
Services Conduct Rules.  However, no amendments in the Standing Orders  have
been made so far.

JHARKHAND
      The State of  Jharkhand  has  carried  out  amendments  in  the  Civil
Services Conduct Rules.  However, no amendments in the Standing Orders  have
been made so far.


9.           From  the  affidavits  filed  by  the  State  Governments,   it
transpires that the States  of  Orissa, Meghalaya,  Himachal  Pradesh,  Goa,
Arunachal Pradesh and  West  Bengal  have  amended  the  Rules  relating  to
duties, public rights and obligations of the government employees  but  have
not made amendments in Civil Services Conduct Rules. Similarly,  the  States
of  Sikkim,  Madhya  Pradesh,  Gujarat,  Mizoram,  Orissa,  Bihar,  Jammu  &
Kashmir,  Manipur,  Karnataka,  Rajasthan,  Meghalaya,   Haryana,   Himachal
Pradesh, Assam, NCT of Delhi, Goa, Nagaland,  Arunachal  Pradesh,  Jharkhand
and Tamil Nadu have not carried  out  amendments  in  the  Standing  Orders.
These States appear to have not implemented the order passed by  this  Court
on 26.4.2004 quoted above. The States which have carried out  amendments  in
the Civil Services Conduct Rules and the Standing Orders have  not  provided
that the report of the Complaints Committee shall be treated as a report  in
the disciplinary proceedings by an Inquiry Officer. What has  been  provided
by these States is that the inquiry, findings  and  recommendations  of  the
Complaints Committee shall be treated as a  mere  preliminary  investigation
leading to a disciplinary action against the delinquent.
10.         The States like Rajasthan, Meghalaya,  Himachal  Pradesh,  Assam
and Jammu and Kashmir seem to  have  not  formed  Complaints  Committees  as
envisaged in the Vishaka  guidelines. Some States have constituted only  one
Complaints Committee for the entire State.
11.          The Union Territories of Andaman  and  Nicobar  Islands,  Daman
and Diu, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Puducherry  have  not  made
amendments in the Standing Orders. The Union Territory  of  Chandigarh  does
not seem to have carried  out  amendments  in  the  Civil  Services  Conduct
Rules. Some of the  Union  Territories  like  Dadra  and  Nagar  Haveli  and
Chandigarh are reported  to  have  not  yet  formed  Complaints  Committees.
Daman and Diu have formed one Complaints Committee for the Union  Territory.

12.         While we have marched forward substantially in  bringing  gender
parity  in  local  self-governments  but  the  representation  of  women  in
Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies is dismal  as the women  represent
only 10-11 per cent  of  the  total  seats.  India  ranks  129  out  of  147
countries in United Nations Gender Equality Index. This is  lower  than  all
South-Asian Countries except Afghanistan. Our Constitution framers  believed
in fairness and justice for women.  They provided in  the  Constitution  the
States’ commitment of  gender  parity  and  gender  equality  and  guarantee
against sexual harassment to women.
13.         The implementation of the guidelines in Vishaka  has to  be  not
only in form but substance and spirit so  as  to  make  available  safe  and
secure environment to women at the workplace in  every  aspect  and  thereby
enabling the working women to work with dignity, decency  and  due  respect.
There is still no proper mechanism in place to  address  the  complaints  of
sexual harassment of the women lawyers in  Bar  Associations,  lady  doctors
and nurses in the  medical  clinics  and  nursing  homes,  women  architects
working in the offices of the engineers and architects  and  so  on  and  so
forth.
14.         In Seema Lepcha[2]   this Court gave the following directions:

           “(i)  The State Government shall give comprehensive publicity to
           the notifications and orders issued by it in compliance  of  the
           guidelines framed by  this  Court  in  Vishaka’s  case  and  the
           directions given in Medha Kotwal’s  case  by  getting  the  same
           published  in the newspapers having maximum circulation  in  the
           State after every two months.
           (ii)   Wide  publicity  be  given  every  month  on  Doordarshan
           Station,  Sikkim  about  various  steps  taken  by   the   State
           Government  for  implementation  of  the  guidelines  framed  in
           Vishaka’s case and the directions given in Medha Kotwal’s case.
           (iii) Social Welfare Department and the Legal Service  Authority
           of the State of Sikkim shall also give  wide  publicity  to  the
           notifications and orders issued by the State Government not only
           for  the  Government  departments   of   the   State   and   its
           agencies/instrumentalities but also for the private companies.”




15.         As a largest democracy in the world, we have to combat  violence
against women. We are of the considered view  that  the  existing  laws,  if
necessary, be revised and appropriate new laws be enacted by Parliament  and
the State  Legislatures  to  protect  women  from  any  form  of  indecency,
indignity and disrespect at all places (in their homes as well as  outside),
prevent all forms of violence – domestic violence,  sexual  assault,  sexual
harassment at  the  workplace,  etc;  —  and  provide  new  initiatives  for
education and advancement of women and girls in all spheres of  life.  After
all they have limitless potential. Lip service, hollow statements and  inert
and inadequate laws with sloppy enforcement are  not  enough  for  true  and
genuine upliftment of our half most precious population – the women.
16.         In what we have discussed above, we are of the  considered  view
that guidelines in Vishaka should not remain  symbolic  and  the   following
further directions are necessary until legislative enactment on the  subject
is in place.
      (i)   The States and Union Territories which have not yet carried  out
adequate and appropriate  amendments  in  their  respective  Civil  Services
Conduct Rules (By whatever name these Rules are called) shall do  so  within
two months from today  by  providing  that  the  report  of  the  Complaints
Committee shall be deemed to be an inquiry report in a  disciplinary  action
under such Civil Services Conduct Rules.  In other words,  the  disciplinary
authority shall treat the report/findings etc. of the  Complaints  Committee
as the findings in a disciplinary inquiry against  the  delinquent  employee
and  shall  act on such report accordingly. The findings and the  report  of
the Complaints  Committee  shall  not  be  treated  as  a  mere  preliminary
investigation or inquiry leading to  a  disciplinary  action  but  shall  be
treated as a finding/report  in  an  inquiry  into  the  misconduct  of  the
delinquent.
      (ii)  The States and Union Territories  which  have  not  carried  out
amendments in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders)  Rules  shall  now
carry out amendments on the same lines, as noted above in clause (i)  within
two months.
      (iii) The States and Union Territories shall form adequate  number  of
Complaints Committees so as to ensure that they  function at  taluka  level,
district level and state  level.   Those  States  and/or  Union  Territories
which have formed only one Committee for the entire  State  shall  now  form
adequate number of Complaints Committees within two months from today.  Each
of such Complaints Committees shall be headed by  a  woman  and  as  far  as
possible in such Committees an independent member shall be associated.
       (iv)   The  State  functionaries  and  private  and   public   sector
undertakings/organisations/bodies/institutions  etc.  shall  put  in   place
sufficient  mechanism  to  ensure  full  implementation   of   the   Vishaka
guidelines and further  provide  that  if  the  alleged  harasser  is  found
guilty, the complainant – victim is  not  forced  to  work  with/under  such
harasser and where appropriate and possible the alleged harasser  should  be
transferred.  Further  provision  should  be  made   that   harassment   and
intimidation of witnesses and the complainants  shall  be  met  with  severe
disciplinary action.
      (v)   The Bar Council of India shall ensure that all bar  associations
in the country and persons registered with the  State  Bar  Councils  follow
the Vishaka  guidelines. Similarly, Medical Council of  India,   Council  of
Architecture, Institute  of  Chartered  Accountants,  Institute  of  Company
Secretaries  and  other  statutory  Institutes   shall   ensure   that   the
organisations,    bodies,    associations,    institutions    and    persons
registered/affiliated with them follow the guidelines laid down by  Vishaka.
To achieve this, necessary instructions/circulars shall  be  issued  by  all
the statutory bodies such as  Bar  Council  of  India,  Medical  Council  of
India, Council of Architecture, Institute of Company Secretaries within  two
months from today. On receipt of any complaint of sexual harassment  at  any
of the places referred to  above  the  same  shall  be  dealt  with  by  the
statutory  bodies  in  accordance  with  the  Vishaka   guidelines  and  the
guidelines in the present order.
17.         We are of the view that if there is any non-compliance  or  non-
adherence to  the  Vishaka   guidelines,  orders  of  this  Court  following
Vishaka  and the above directions, it will be open to the aggrieved  persons
to approach the respective High Courts. The High Court of such  State  would
be in a better position to effectively consider  the  grievances  raised  in
that regard.
18.         Writ petitions (including T.C.)  and appeals are disposed of  as
above with no orders as to costs.

                                                           ……………………..     J.
                                                          (R.M. Lodha)


                                          ………………………J.
                                                          (Anil R. Dave)




                                                           ……………………..     J.
                                                          (Ranjan Gogoi)


NEW DELHI.
OCTOBER  19, 2012.
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[1]    Vishaka and Others v. State of Rajasthan and Others; [(1997) 6 SCC
241]
[2]    Seema Lepcha v. State of Sikkim & Ors. [Petition for Special Leave
to Appeal (Civil) No. 34153/2010 decided on 3.2.2012]

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