In the Matter at hand State v Commandant Air Force a case in which an Indian Air Force flight lieutenant claimed that a fellow student at the Air Force Administrative College in Coimbatore had sexually assaulted her. She claimed that during her medical examination at the Air Force Hospital after the incident, she had to endure great humiliation and had been pressured into withdrawing her complaint. She also informed the court that because her employer, the Indian Air Force, had not dealt with her complaint adequately and appropriately, she was forced to go to the local police to have a case registered.
Analysis of Court order
The existence of the ICC is required under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal Act of 2013. The Madras High Court Single Judge Bench Justice RN Manjula instructed the Armed Forces to ensure that the ICC exists in accordance with this mandate, and the Union Ministry of Defence was instructed to ensure that the Armed Forces have a sexual harassment internal complaints committee in place.
The judge also instructed the Central government to provide gender-sensitive awareness training to all armed personnel in order to sensitise them. The Court also issued a series of instructions for district courts to follow when handling charges involving members of the defence team. According to the order, the district judiciary must abide by the ruling in Som Datt Datta v. Union of India, and the police must present their chargesheet solely to a magistrate rather than the relevant Court Martial authority. The Court further stated that it was crucial to prevent secondary victimisation of a victim of sexual assault or other forms of abuse. As a result, all organisations, including the armed forces, are required to strictly uphold the POSH Act of 2013’s requirements.
CASE NAME – State v Commandant Air Force Crl. O.P.No.23403 of 2021