What amounts to sexual
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
Where any of these acts is
committed in circumstances where under 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 amounts to sexual harassment.
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.
Steps to be taken by the
All Employers or persons in charge of work place whether in 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 work place should be notified, published and circulated in
(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, 1940.
(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 work places and no
employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she
is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.
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
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.
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.
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.
The complaint mechanism,
referred above, should be adequate to provide, where necessary, a
Complaints Committee, a special counsellor or other support
services, including the maintenance of confidentiality.
The Complaints Committee
should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its member
should be a woman. 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.
Complaint procedure must be
Confidentiality of the
complaint procedure has to be maintained.
Complainants or witnesses
should not be victimised or discriminated against while dealing
The Complaints Committee must
take 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.
Conducting enquiry by
the complaints committee
Any person aggrieved shall prefer a complaint before the
Complaints Committee at the earliest point of time and in any case
within 15 days from the date of occurrence of the alleged
The complaint shall contain
all the material and relevant details concerning the alleged
sexual harassment including the names of the contravener and the
complaint shall be addressed to the Complaints Committee.
If the complainant feels
that she cannot disclose her identity for any particular reason
the complainant shall address the complaint to the head of the
organisation and hand over the same in person or in a sealed
Upon receipt of such
complaint the head of the organisation shall retain the original
complaint with him and send to the Complaints Committee a gist of
the complaint containing all material and relevant details other
than the name of the complainant and other details, which might
disclose the identity of the complainant.
The Complaints Committee
shall take immediate necessary action to cause an inquiry to be
made discreetly or hold an inquiry, if necessary.
The Complaints Committee
shall after examination of the complaint submit its
recommendations to the head of the organisation recommending the
penalty to be imposed.
The head of the
organisation, upon receipt of the report from the Complaints
Committee shall after giving an opportunity of being heard to the
person complained against submit the case with the Committee's
recommendations to the management.
The Management of the Organisation shall confirm with or without
modification the penalty recommended after duly following the
Where the conduct of an
employee amounts to misconduct in employment as defined in the
relevant service rules the employer should initiate appropriate
disciplinary action in accordance with the relevant rules.
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.
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
Laws under which a case
can be filed
Section 209, IPC deals with obscene acts and songs and lays down:
Whoever, to the annoyance of others:
a) does any obscene act in any public place or
b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words in
or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of
either description for a term, which may extend to 3 months or
with fine or both. (Cognizable, bailable and triable offences).
-Section 354, IPC deals
with assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to
outrage her modesty and lays down that:
Whoever assaults or uses
criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to
be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be
punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which
may extend to two years, or with fine or both.
-Section 509, IPC deals
with word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a
woman and lays down that:
Whoever intending to insult
the modesty of any woman utters any word, makes any sound or
gesture, or exhibits any object intending that such word or sound
shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by
such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be
punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to
one year, or with fine, or both. (Cognizable and bailable
-Civil suit can be filed
for damages under tort laws. That is, the basis for filing the
case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income
and employment caused by the sexual harassment.
-Under the Indecent
Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987) if an individual
harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films,
pamphlets, packages, etc. containing "indecent representation of
women"; they are liable for a minimum sentence of 2 years. Further
section 7 (Offenses by Companies) holds companies where there has
been "indecent representation of women" (such as the display of
pornography) on the premises guilty of offenses under this act,
with a minimum sentence of 2 years.