In the matter of State of Goa and Others v. Aureliano Fernandes according to a poll done by a national daily newspaper, 16 of the 30 national sports federations in the nation do not currently have an internal complaints committee (ICC). It expressed significant disapproval of the fact that even ten years after the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013 (POSH Act) was passed, serious gaps in the law’s actual application persisted.
Analysis of SC decision
A supreme court divisional bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli
emphasised that it is the responsibility of all State employees, public officials, private enterprises, organisations, and institutions to implement the POSH Act in letter and spirit. The bench went on to say that it is common for women to be reluctant to report sexual harassment when it occurs at work. Many of them quit their jobs altogether. Uncertainty regarding who to approach under the Act for the resolution of their grievance is one of the causes of this reluctance to report. Another is a lack of faith in the procedure and its results. It is urgently necessary to address this social ill by putting the Act into practice robustly and effectively. It is crucial to inform the complainant victim of the significance and operation of the POSH Act to accomplish this. Therefore, it requested that the Union Government and the State Governments take proactive measures to guarantee that the goal of passing the POSH Act is accomplished.
The Court issued a warning stating that the POSH Act will never be successful in granting women the respect and dignity they deserve at work unless and until all State and non-State actors strictly adhere to the enforcement regime.
Suggestion and Recommendation
To guarantee a strong and efficient implementation of the POSH Act, the Court issued the following directives:
- The Union of India, all State Governments, and Union Territories are instructed to conduct a time-bound exercise to determine whether all relevant Ministries, Departments, Government organisations, authorities, Public Sector Undertakings, institutions, bodies, etc. have established ICC/LC/IC and that the makeup of the said Committees strictly complies with the requirements of the PoSH Act. The procedure for filing an online complaint, as well as the pertinent rules, regulations, and internal policies, shall be readily available on the website of the concerned Authority. It shall also be ensured that necessary information regarding the constitution and composition of the ICC/LC/IC, details of the e-mail IDs and contact numbers of the designated person, and the procedure prescribed for submitting an online complaint are also made readily available.
- To educate authorities/managements/employers, employees, and adolescent groups about the provisions of the Act, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA) must develop modules for conducting workshops and organising awareness programmes. These modules must be included in their annual calendars.
- The National Judicial Academy and the State Judicial Academies must include orientation programmes, seminars, and workshops in their annual calendars to help members of the ICC/LC/IC established in the High Courts and District Courts develop their capacities and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for conducting inquiries in accordance with the Act and Rules.