The Supreme Court on May 11, 2018 directed Chief Justices or acting Chief Justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in courts across the country within two months in accordance with a 2013 law.
The top court also requested Gita Mittal, the Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to constitute the panel in the high court and in all district courts in the national capital within a week.
• The ruling was made by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
• The court was hearing a writ petition filed by a woman lawyer against the advocates and some members of Delhi Bar Association alleging assault at the Tis Hazari district court complex in Delhi.
• Disposing of the petition, the bench asked those concerned with the case to amicably settle their disputes.
• The court also directed that advocates from both sides should not be arrested in connection with the two cross FIRs filed by them against each other.
• The apex court asked the crime branch of Delhi Police to investigate the two cross-complaints.
• It also transferred the trials, arising from the two cross FIRs, to the Patiala House district court in New Delhi and asked the Bar leaders not to interfere with the administration of justice.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 requires every workplace to set up committees to probe sexual harassment complaints.
About Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act
• The act seeks to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.
• The act applies to any woman who is harassed in any workplace. It is not necessary for the woman to be working at the workplace in which she is harassed. A workplace can be any office, whether government or private.
• Under the Act, which also covers students in schools and colleges as well as patients in hospitals, employers and local authorities are required to set up grievance committees to investigate all complaints.
• However, most employers in the country have not implemented the law despite the legal requirement that any workplace with more than 10 employees need to implement it.
• The bill proposing the act was passed by Parliament’s lower house Lok Sabha on September 3, 2012. The Parliament’s upper house Rajya Sabha passed the bill on February 26, 2013.
• The bill got assent from the President on April 23, 2013, after which it became a law and came into force from December 9, 2013.
Who: Supreme Court