Supreme Court Urges Strict Enforcement of Sexual Harassment Act for Workplace Dignity


The Supreme Court of India has expressed deep concern over the lack of effective enforcement of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 (POSH Act), even a decade after its enactment. The Court emphasized that strict adherence to the enforcement regime and a proactive approach by all stakeholders, both state and non-state actors, are crucial for the Act to provide the dignity and respect that women deserve in the workplace.In its recent ruling, the Court outlined several measures to ensure the proper implementation of the POSH Act.

It directed the authorities, management, and employers to conduct regular orientation programs, workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns. These initiatives aim to educate members of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs), Local Complaints Committees (LCs), and Inquiry Committees (ICs), as well as women employees and women’s groups, about the provisions of the Act, its accompanying Rules, and relevant regulations.To enhance awareness and sensitize stakeholders, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) are tasked with developing modules for workshops and awareness programs. These efforts will focus on educating authorities, managements, employers, employees, and adolescent groups about the provisions of the Act, which will be included in their annual calendars.Furthermore, the National Judicial Academy and State Judicial Academies have been instructed to incorporate orientation programs, seminars, and workshops in their annual calendars.

These initiatives will help build the capacity of ICCs, LCs, and ICs established in the High Courts and District Courts. Additionally, they will assist in drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to effectively conduct inquiries under the Act and its Rules.The Supreme Court cautioned that the POSH Act cannot achieve its intended purpose without a safe, respectful, and responsive working environment. It emphasized that if authorities, managements, and employers fail to ensure a secure workplace, women will be hesitant to leave their homes and fully utilize their talents and skills. To address this, the Court called upon the Union Government and State Governments to take affirmative action and ensure the altruistic objectives behind enacting the POSH Act are realized.In order to enforce its directives, the Court mandated that a copy of the judgment be transmitted to the secretaries of all ministries within the Government of India.

These secretaries are responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Court’s directions across all relevant departments, statutory authorities, institutions, and organizations under their respective ministries.The Supreme Court’s ruling highlights the urgent need for a concerted effort to enforce and uphold the provisions of the POSH Act. It serves as a clarion call for all stakeholders to actively contribute towards creating a safe and inclusive working environment that respects the dignity and rights of women employees in India.


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