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Vishaka & Ors. V/S State of Rajasthan

Citation:  Vishaka & Ors. V/S State of Rajasthan (AIR 997 SC 3011)

Bench of Judges: CJI, Sujata V. Manohar, B. N. Kirpal

Facts of the case:

Bhanwari Devi was a social worker in a program started by the state legislature of Rajasthan, expecting to deter child marriage, a deep-rooted evil. While stopping a child marriage in one of Ramakant Gujjar’s family, Bhanwari Devi made an honest effort to bar that marriage.

Notwithstanding the effort, the marriage still went through, even though there was a broad -demonstration. In September 1992, to look for revenge, Ramakant Gujjar, alongside his gang of 5 men, raped Bhanwari Devi in front of her significant other. The department of police, firstly, attempted to discourage them from filing the case on one excuse or another. However, to her assurance, she stopped a protest against the charge.

They were still exposed to unforgiving pitilessness by the female police officials even to the degree that for acquiring proof, they asked for her lehenga, and she was left with her significant other’s blood-stained dhoti. Adding to their agony, their demand to spend the night in the police station was also refused.

The trial court exonerated the accused; however, she didn’t lose hope, and seeing her persistence, all other female social workers came forth to her help. Bhanwari Devi’s case was filed by an NGO named Vishakha. The Supreme Court was called upon to outline rules for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace.

The honorable court came up with rules as “Vishakha Guidelines”, which framed the premise of “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”. It has been laid down in the aforementioned judgment that it is the obligation of the management or other responsible individuals in workplaces of different organizations to prevent further occurrences of such an event and to equip the workers with the adequate procedure for punishing such immoral acts of sexual harassment. For this Act, “sexual harassment” signifies unpleasant and unwelcome sexual advances, and demands for sexual favors, as direct or indirect as;

  • physical contact and advances;
  • an interest or demand for sexual courtesies;
  • explicitly sexual comments;
  • making someone watch pornography;
  • some other unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Judgment:

The court saw that the fundamental rights under Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, each field of employment ought to maintain a safe workplace for their work staff. Sexual harassment at the workplace curbs the right to lead a life of decency. The essential prerequisite of the right to equality is that there ought to be safe working conditions at the workplace.

 

The Supreme Court upheld that women have the fundamental right to work in a sexual harassment-free workspace. It likewise set forth different significant rules for the working staff to follow to prevent sexual harassment in a workspace. The court additionally proposed to have appropriate techniques for exercising the situations where there is a chance of sexual harassment at the workplace. The principle target of the Supreme Court was to guarantee gender equality among individuals and to guarantee that there ought to be no inequality between men and women at the workplace.

After this case, the Supreme Court made the term “sexual harassment” unambiguous, stating, “any physical touch or conduct, showing of pornography, any unpleasant taunt or misbehavior, or any sexual desire towards women, sexual favor will come under the ambit of sexual harassment.”

Critical Analysis:

In the case of Vishakha and Others v. the State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court clearly underlined the meaning of “sexual harassment”, as something which passes any undesirable or uninvited physical touch or showing of pornography or any determinable sexual remarks or messages will go under its ambit.

In my opinion, doing any such act legitimately hampers the right to life for women and it likewise influences their right to live with decency. It likewise affects the psychological and physical wellbeing of women. The Supreme Court created guidelines that, the individual accountable for that specific corporation, association, or office whether be it private or public, shall be responsible for the prevention of any events that could be labeled as sexual harassment.

Damages shall be levied from the accused of sexually harassing a coworker. It had become an extremely critical point to follow up on for the prevention of such behavior. If there should arise an occurrence of such an event in a privately owned corporation, stringent rules regarding the penalties will be included.

On the off chance, a person who isn’t an employee conducts the sexual harassment, the individual accountable for that corporation must take strict action against such conduct.

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