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In India, traditionally, women were expected to care for the children and stay at home, while men were expected to provide for the family. With the industrial revolution, improved facilities, increased literacy, and access to education. Women began leaving the confines of their homes and entering the workforce all around the world. Although women have always worked alongside their family in households, on fields, and even as babysitters.

All of these were rarely acknowledged and were seen as secondary activity. Women were commonly taken advantage of because they had no rights while working. The constitution's authors acknowledged this issue and gave everyone the right to equality. regardless of gender, caste, religion, or social class.

According to Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, equality is a goal, and it calls for the creation of special legislation for women and the lower classes. Even today, women still do not enjoy the same status as males. We undoubtedly need regulations that help women occupy their proper roles in society. In India, rules that are particular to gender are created to guarantee gender equality.


Since more and more women have started working, sexual harassment has become a widespread problem in India's developing economy. It is terrible that no area of human endeavour has been spared, from the police and the army to multinational corporations and sports. Legislation that could defend the rights of these working women was urgently needed. Similar to the case with numerous statutes, judicial activism was responsible for bringing this to the public's attention for the first time.

Legal Activism

In Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan, judicial activism in the area of sexual harassment achieved its apex (Vishakha). The ruling was unprecedented for a number of reasons, including the Supreme Court's acknowledgment and heavy reliance on international treaties that had not yet been translated into domestic law, the Supreme Court's provision of India's first authoritative definition of "sexual harassment," and the Supreme Court's innovative use of judicial legislation when faced with a statutory gap.

Regulations under the Act

The fact that many Indian workplaces did not follow the rules established by the supreme court of India had been brought to the attention of several courts in the nation. It took 16 years following the landmark ruling in the case of Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan, in which the supreme court established standards for sexual harassment in the workplace, before the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Act, 2013, was enacted. This act has filled in the absence of adequate legislation that gives every woman of India, irrespective of age or position of employment, a workspace that is safe and protected from any type of harassment. The goal of the aforementioned Act is to not only protect against, but also to prevent, any form of sexual harassment in the workplace. It also ensures a prompt resolution of any complaints made in accordance with the Act. A criminal law act change was made in 2013 that made sexual harassment, stalking, and other offences illegal.

The creation of committees for the redress of grievances, which must be done for both the organised and unorganised sectors, is one of the act's most significant provisions. These committees are listed as follows:

  • Internal complaints committee: Each office or branch of any company with more than 10 employees is required to have an ICC, or internal complaints committee.
  • Local complaints committee: The government of India should establish a Local complaints committee, commonly known as the LCC, at the district level for the unorganised sector as well as for institutions with less than 10 employees.

 The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, grants the ICC and the LCC authority comparable to that of a civil court. They are able to summon and compel any accused to testify under oath, to produce the necessary records related to the complaint, and to take any other actions required for a prompt resolution of the case.

According to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, any woman who wishes to file a complaint after experiencing sexual harassment at work must do so by submitting six written accounts of the incident. This complaint must include the names of any witnesses as well as—and perhaps most importantly—the proof of the alleged incident. Within three months of the alleged harassment, a complaint may be made. The committees may extend this period by an additional three months. Being a mentally torturous crime, sexual harassment has a significant psychological impact on its victims, who may not be able to file formal charges. According to the Act, any relative, psychologist, friend, or coworker has the authority to lodge a complaint on behalf of the victim.

The ICC and LCC, which have been given the authority to do so by the Act, are entitled to request interim measures on behalf of the complainants. The ICC and LCC have the authority to assign other employees to carry out the respondent's duties towards the victim, move the victim to a different branch or workplace, and award them a leave of absence of up to three months. The statute specifically outlines the compensation and penalties that would be imposed on anyone found guilty of sexual harassment at work. The following is stated in the act:

  • The employer may impose sanctions in accordance with the organisational norms.
  • If such regulations have not been developed the penalties might range from therapy, community service, suspension of service or promotion.
  • The perpetrator's wages shall be withheld in order to pay the victim's compensation. The amount of compensation due is based on the victim's bodily and mental suffering, employment loss, and medical expenses.
  • Any organisation that fails to establish an ICC for the resolution of sexual harassment claims will be fined $50,000.

Vishaka & Ors. v. State of Rajasthan is one of the most significant cases involving sexual harassment; in this particular case, Bhawari Devi worked for the government as a social worker. She had been sexually assaulted by five people, but the court had dismissed the case for lack of evidence. Due to the widespread support this case received from the public, Bhawari Devi was helped by numerous NGOs and activists in her quest for the justice she so well deserves. Consequently, a public interest lawsuit had been initiated. Since there were no laws in existence the supreme court of India had set certain recommendations and dubbed it Vishaka guidelines.

These were provided to the employers so they could stop any workplace sexual harassment. Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra was the first case involving workplace sexual harassment to reach a court following the implementation of the Vishaka guidelines. In this instance, a male officer superior had harassed a female subordinate sexually without making physical contact with her. The court found him guilty after using the Vishaka principles. Physical contact is not a need for sexual harassment, according to the court's ruling. Shehnaz Mudbhalkal was an employee of Arabian Airlines in one of the most significant cases in which the high court used the Vishaka rules was Saudi Arabian Airlines, Mumbai v. Mudbhalkal. Shehnaz Mudbhalkal was subjected to sexual harassment by her manager, Abdul E. Bahrani, who made sexual demands of her and threatened to dismiss her if she didn't comply. The high court ruled that Shehnaz Mudbhalkal should be restored with full pay and full back earnings after she filed a petition.


From having no means of remedy available to a woman to having a very strong and powerful means of redress available, we have gone a long way. A thorough examination of the subject enables us to realise that no law can be one-dimensional. Additionally, a law as groundbreaking as the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace Act has had a profound social impact. This law, in my opinion, is unquestionably a step in the right way. It calls for widespread public awareness, tact, and effective implementation. People shouldn't judge either the woman or the male after an occurrence, in my opinion. The correct procedure must be followed.

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