By Hamid Hashmi
Sexual harassment is coercion of a sexual nature, unwelcome se-xual advances, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. It is termed as a violation of the Fundamental rights of a woman to equality and to live with dignity. Article 21 of our constitution gurantees us the ‘right to live with human dignity’,Article 15 gurantees Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 19 gurantees us the right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
It amounts to sexual harassment at a workplace when it creates a hostile work environment for a woman, or when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment.
In order to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work and further for redressal of complaints of sexual harassment, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) came into force in India.
The POSH Act, 2013 came into existence for the prevention of Sexual harassment at workplace and make you aware about several remedies to prevent such behaviour.
The Act is applicable to all establishment; irrespective of whether there are any female (women) workers or not. For example, its applicable if a lady visitor, client, student, nurse, trainer or any female (women) who visits the establishment for any purpose what-so-ever is sexually harassed.
Although its not mandatory to have internal Complaints Committe if the number of employees is less than 10; because in such cases the victim (survivor) can complain directly to the local Complaints Committee constituted by the appropriate government.
However, it is always prudent to have an Internal Complaints Committee, (constituted as per the Act); for obvious reasons because the penalty in case of cases going to Local Committee could be very high in terms of reputation and image of the company apart from the other consequences of punishment to the accused person.
The reality of constitution of sexual harassment committees on ground is very deplorable.The need of the hour is that the government and local administration must intervene and take certain necessary measures for the constitution of these committes in j&k and across the country as well.Because the POSH Act, provides an alternative redressal mechanism for dealing with the complaints of such nature.It is no doubt that this Act provides for prohibition,prevention and redressal which distinguishes it from other laws.
(The author is a student of The Law School,University Of Jammu)