In the Instant Case of X v. Internal Committee Under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act of 2013, X the victim filed an appeal contesting the decision made by the Internal Complaints Committee established by Standard Chartered Bank respondent, which was looking into a case of sexual harassment against her by a former employee of M/S Standard Chartered Bank. The primary complaint of the appellant is that despite the Internal Committee finding that the respondent violated POSH Act Sections 13 and 15, it did not impose any fines or sanctions. Additionally, the Internal Committee did not make any suggestions for additional measures to be taken against the respondent. The Committee’s practise of permitting anonymous witnesses to give testimony without exposing their names despite the victim’s objections was also criticised by the appellant as being against the principles of natural justice.
Analysis of Court Decision
The Delhi High Court’s single-judge panel, led by Justice Ajay Goel, ruled that the ICC’s conclusions are invalid and unconstitutional.
The International Commissioner is a fact-finding organisation that makes recommendations about claims of sexual harassment at work, and the Court emphasised that sexual harassment is a sign of unhealthful human interactions. The goal of the ICC is to offer a quick resolution without hassles or complicated procedures. However, in this instance, the respondent did not look into the causes of the occurrence, did not document any complaints, and failed to address the appellant’s complaints. The internal committee’s prejudice was clear since the appellant was requested to disclose potential cross-examination questions in advance. Natural justice principles are violated by this practice, which is also prohibited under the POSH Act from producing anonymous witnesses. The ICC’s conduct, in this case, was unfavourable and biased in the appellant’s favour.
The Court noted that victims are afraid to report sexual harassment cases or complaints because doing so will damage their reputation both inside and outside of the workplace. Victims become the subject of conversation, making it difficult for them to work in such an environment and are instead looked at suspiciously. Even the organization’s employer is hesitant to listen to these concerns and makes an effort to avoid them in order to protect their reputation. As a result, the Court ordered the respondent to hand up Rs. 1,50,000 along with an unreserved apology to the appellant and an amount of Rs. 50,000 to be deposited by the Standard Chartered Bank.
CASE NAME – X v. Internal Committee, RCA DJ NO. 2/22