Explained | What is the PoSH Act and why has the Supreme Court flagged lapses in its implementation?
The Supreme Court has flagged “serious lapses” in the implementation of the ten-year-old PoSH Act to protect women from sexual harassment in workplaces, calling for its robust and efficient implementation
The story so far: Ten years after the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (PoSH) came into force, the Supreme Court Bench of India has said there are “serious lapses” and “uncertainty” regarding its implementation, issuing directions to the Union, States, and Union Territories to verify if all government bodies had formed Internal Complaint Committees and to ensure that the composition of such panels is in strict adherence with the Act.
In 1992, Bhanwari Devi, a social worker with the Women’s Development Project of the Rajasthan government was gang-raped by five men after she tried to prevent the marriage of a one-year-old girl. While hearing pleas filed by activist groups against the crime, the SC, noting the absence of any law “enacted to provide for effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality” guarantee against “sexual harassment at workplaces”, laid down a set of guidelines in 1997, christened the Vishakha Guidelines, to fill the statutory vacuum till a law could be enacted. These were to be “strictly observed in all workplaces” and were binding and enforceable in law. The Court drew its strength from several provisions of the Constitution including Article 15 (against discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth), also drawing from relevant International Conventions and norms such as the General Recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which India ratified in 1993.
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May 15, 2023
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