Vishaka & Ors. V/S State of Rajasthan (Air 1997 Sc 3011) - Sexual
Harassment Landmark Case
Bench Of Judges: CJI, Sujata V. Manohar, B. N. Kirpal
Vishaka & ors. v/s state of Rajasthanis a case which deals with the evil
of Sexual Harassment of a women at her workplace. It is a landmark judgment
case in the history of sexual harassment which as being decide by Supreme
Court. Sexual Harassment means an uninvited/unwelcome sexual favor or sexual
gestures from one gender towards the other gender. It makes the person feel
humiliated, offended and insulted to whom it is been done. In many of the cases,
it has been observed that homosexual labor harass an employee belonging to the
same sex to which he belongs.
Sexual harassment is also termed as “Eve Teasing” in India, and it can be
determined from the following acts like- passing of indicative or typical
comments or jokes, uninvited touching, making appeals for sex, sexually blunt
pictures or text messages or emails, discredit person because of sex.
Accordingly, Sexual Harassment violates the fundamental right of the women of
gender equality which is codified under Article 14 of Indian Constitution and
also the fundamental right to life and to live a dignified life is violated/infringed
under Article 21 of constitution of India. Even though there has been no
provision for sexual harassment at workplace under Indian Constitution.
Justice Arjit Pasayat beholder from his beautiful thought that- “ while a
murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, on the other hand the
rapist defiles the soul of a helpless female”.
Sexual harassment is one of the social evil faced by the fragile portion of the
society. Now at this point of time the high society people or the people who
commits sexual harassment should become aware about the vital needs or rights of
women or either when this tranquil volcano of anger will erupt will cause
immense danger and shattering which would have equal consequences which is
cause from the burst or eruption of an inactive volcano.
The facts of this case are given below:-
# Bhanwari Devi who was a social activist/worker in one of the Rajasthan’s
# She worked under a social development program at rural level which was about
to stop child marriage in a village and this social program was administered/
initiated by the Rajasthan’s state government.
# Bhanwari Devi en-devoured to stop the marriage of the Ramkaran Gujjars (thakurs)
daughter, who was merely less than one year old i.e. she was an infant only.
# As a part of her duty, Bhanwari Devi tried to terminate the marriage of her
# Even of her vain-full efforts to stop the marriage, it happened, but Bhanwari
devi was not excused or pardoned for her’s this fault.
# She was exposed to or put forward to social punishment or boycott.
# September 1992, she was been gang raped by Ramkaran Gujjar and his five
friends in front of her husband.
# The male doctor at normal primary health center declined to survey her and
the doctor at Jaipur only made confirmation of her age without any
recommendation of her being raped in her medical report.
# At police station too she was been continually taunted by the women countable
for the whole of the midnight.
# In past midnight she was been asked by the policeman to leave her lehnga as
the evidence of that incident and go back to her village.
# After that, she was only left with the bloodstained dhoti of her husband to
wrap her body, as a result of which they had to spend there whole night in that
# The Trail Court made the discharge of the accused people for not being
# The High Court in his judgement propounded that –“ it was a case of gang rape
which was conducted out of revengeful situation.
# All these statement and judgement, aroused women and NGO’S to file pitition (PIL)
in Supreme Court of India.
Issue Raised In This Case
# Whether, the enactment of guidelines mandatory for the repudment of sexual
harassment of women at workplace.
The judgment of
Vishakha's case was conveyed by Chief Justice J.S Verma as a
representative of Justice Sujata Manihar and Justice B.N Kripal on account of
writ petition which was file by Vishakha the victim of this case. The court
observed that the fundamental rights under Article 14, 19(1)(g) and
21of Constitution of India that, every profession, trade or occupation
should provide safe working environment to the employees. It hampered the right
to life and the right to live a dignified life. The basic requirement was that
there should be the availability of safe working environment at workplace.
The Supreme Court held that, women have fundamental right towards the freedom of
sexual harassment at workplace. It also put forward various important guidelines
for the employees to follow them and avoid sexual harassment of women at
workplace. The court also suggested to have proper techniques for the
implementation of cases where there is sexual harassment at workplace. The main
aim/objective of the Supreme Court was to ensure gender equality among people
and also to ensure that there should be no discrimination towards women at there
After this case, the Supreme Court made the term Sexual harassment well defined,
accordingly 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.
In the case of
Vishakha & others v/s the state of Rajasthan, the Supreme
Court specifically underlined the definition of Sexual Harassment,which
conveys any unwanted or uninvited physical touch or conduct or showing of
pornography or any definable sexual comments or texts will come under the ambit
of Sexual Harassment. According to me any such conduct done directly hampers the
right of women to life and it also affects there dignity to live. It also
hinders the mental and physical health of women. Sexual harassment shall be
avoided and the equality between the genders shall be established at workplace.
The Supreme Court held out guidelines that, the person-in-charge of the
particular institution, organisation or office whether be it private or public,
will be responsible in taking effective steps to prevent sexual harassment.
Penalties shall be charged from the accused people for conducting sexual
harassment. It had became a very crucial topic to act upon for the prevention of
sexual harassment women at workplace. In case of private companies the strict
rules regarding the punishment of sexual harassment shall be included. In case
the sexual harassment is conducted by the outsiders, the person-in charge of
that institution must take strict action for the conduct of such crime.
Sexual Harassment of women at workplace happens at a very frequent rate in
India. If any strict action will not be taken towards this crime, it will
directly hamper the working ration of the women in India and on other hand it
will hamper the economic situation of India. Government should make strict laws
regarding the aversion of sexual harassment at workplace, because it should
realize that, women also constitute the working population of our country. It
should be abolished to prevent the dignity and the respect of the women. Various
new approaches and skills shall be implemented by the institutions,
organisations to prevent there women employees from such a social evil. The main
objective behind the stabilization of this right is to promote gender equality
at workplace without any kind of discrimination and discernment among the
workers of an organisation.
AIR 1997 SC 3011
Article 14, Constitution Of India, (Right To Equality)
Article 19 (1)(G) Constitution Of India, (Right To Practice Ones Profession)
Article 21, Constitution of India, (Right to life)
AIR 1997 SC 3011 at 3014