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Vishaka v/s Rajasthan: A landmark case of sexual harassment (1997)

The case Vishaka and others vs. state of Rajasthan Focus on the enforcement of the fundamental rights of women at the workplace under the provisions of article 14,15,19 and 21 of the constitution of India. It raised the issue of the need of the protection for women at the work place from sexual harassment. With increase of awareness on gender justice, there should also be an increase in the effort to guard such violations. The current incident reveals the hazards and harassment to which working women may be exposed with depravity to which sexual harassment can degenerate.

Earlier, with the concept of women empowerment in a country like India women were given the position of Goddess Laxmi, Durga and Parvati but today the situation is not the same. In today's era woman who are now self-dependent in hold very good positions faces harassment, inequality, discrimination and biasness at the workplace.

It can be seen that women's safety in security is the most essential for the entire country but this could not happen, the Indian scenario completely shattered after the dark incident and which took place in the year 1982 which is popularly known as The Vishaka case. After the Vishaka case, The Supreme Court give the Vishaka guidelines to curb sexual harassment of women at workplace.

Name Of The Case: Vishaka And Ors V. State Of Rajasthan And Ors,1997
Appellant: Vishaka And Others
Respondent: The State Of Rajasthan And Others
Date Of The Judgement: 13th August 1997
Bench Of Judges: CJI, Sujata V. Manohar, B.N. Kripal
Citation Of The Case: (1997) 6 SCC 241

Brief Facts:
  • A Social worker lady named Bhanwari Devi is engaged in a program to stop the child marriages which is being initiated by the State Government of Rajasthan
  • A Gujjar family tried to follow the child marriage but as a part of her work she tried to stop the marriage and was successful, even though after widespread protest against her.
  • One of member of the Gujarat family tried to took revenge from Bhanwari Devi by gang rapping her with his five other men and that too in front of her husband.
  • When she tried to lodge an FIR against the accused, the policemen refused to file the case by providing further excuses
  • She was also exposed to social punishment and boycott.
  • when she succeeded in filing a case against the accused then they were treated with a cruelty that they deserve.
  • Bhanwari Devi with her other female workers filed writ petition in the Supreme Court which has been successfully preceded in the Supreme Court and now which is known as the Vishaka guidelines.

Issues In The Case
  • Is there violation of the rights of gender inequality?
  • Is it the responsibility of the employer if the sexual harassment is done to/by the employees?
  • Supreme Court with regard to the Vishaka case has inspected the problems of the gender equality, outraging the modesty of women, discrimination, and sexual harassment at workplace and also the rape being a societal issue of substantial intensity, being violence against women.

By Appellant
A Writ petition was filed by the Vishaka group which comprised of the women from various rights activists, NGOs and other social activist, Seeking the writ of mandamus. By putting forward their argument these said that the indecent acts of sexual harassment of women at workplace is violative of Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 enshrined under the fundamental rights of the constitution of India.

They requested the Hon'ble court to frame guidelines for preventing sexual harassment at the workplace.

By The Respondent
The Solicitor general of India appeared on the behalf of respondents with their consent by supporting the petitioners. He was there to figure out an effective method to curb sexual harassment and structuring the guidelines for the prevention of the same.

Judgment Of The Case
  • Chief Justice JS Verma, conveyed the judgement of the Vishakh case as a representative of the justice Sujatha Manohar and justice B.N. kripal, on the account of writ petition which was filed by Vishakh as the victim of the case
  • It was held that under the Article 14,19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the fundamental rights of working women are being violated.
     
  • The Sexual harassment violates the fundamental rights of the women for the gender equality which is being codified under the Article 14 on the Indian constitution, the right to life with dignity is being violated under Article 21 of the constitution of India.
     
  • The Supreme Court held:
    Women have fundamental right towards the freedom of sexual harassment at the workplace.
     
  • It also put forward the Vishaka guidelines for the female employees to follow them and avoid the sexual harassment for women at the workplaces.
     
  • The major objective of the Supreme Court is to ensure the gender quality among the people in a workplace and also there should be no discrimination against women.

For this purpose, in the Vishaka guidelines, 1997, the word harassment includes such unwelcome actually determined behaviour whether there applied directly or by the implications such as:
  • Physical contact and advances
  • a demand or request for sexual favour
  • sexually remarks on body
  • Any other Unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Conclusion
Equality and Liberty these two constitutional principles have been upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the Vishaka judgment. This case has inspired many women to raise the voice against sufferings and harassment at the work places that they were silently subjected to until the year 1997. This case has ignited the need for appropriate legislation to safeguard women against sexual harassment.

There is a need for the guidelines in act which can safeguard the woman on the working place. It should not be so hard for women to achieve the same freedom end equal opportunities that a man gets.

The sexual harassment of women now happens at a very frequent rate in India which is a serious concern. It directly affects the working ration of women in India and also hampers the economic situation of the country.

There is a need for the guidelines in the act which can safeguard the woman on the working place. It should not be hard for women to achieve the same freedom end equal opportunities that a man gets. The main objective behind the judgement of this case is to promote gender equality without any kind of discrimination among the workers of an organization.

While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, on the other hand the rapest defiles the soul of a helpless female -Justice Arjit Pasayat

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