Prevention of Sexual Harassment: PoSH

Prevention of Sexual Harassment: PoSH

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013(herein after referred as PoSH Act) is the first and the only legislation in Indian laws that deal specifically with sexual harassment of Women at the workplace. Though, India has several criminal and civil provisions that are related to sexual harassment and also have prescribed punishment for the same under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as IPC) which speaks about outraging the modesty of a woman. The defined punishment of which is 1 year of imprisonment or fine or can be both depends on the discretion of the court.

What is Sexual harassment?

The definition of sexual harassment is well-defined in the POSH Act, It states that “sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour, whether directly expressed or implied, and includes the case of physical contacts and advances, or sexual favour demanded or requested, or making remarks with sexual overtones, or showing pornography or other offensive material, or acting in an unwelcome sexual manner through physical, verbal, or non-verbal means.

Who is Employee under the PoSH Act?

Section 2(f) “employee” defines any person employed at a workplace on a regular, transitory, ad – hoc basis, or daily salary basis, whether directly or via an agency, including a contractor, for any task, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working voluntarily or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied, and entails a co-worker, probationer, a contract worker, trainee.

What are the different objectives of the PoSH Act?

PoSH is an act to protect, prevent and prohibit sexual harassment of women at workplace. The main objective of the PoSH Act is to provide a safe and healthy workplace to each and every employee of any organisation. In addition to this it is essential to give a dignified life to all their female employee. The sexual harassment not only means physical torture but it also includes passing sexual comments, bullying, body shaming, taunting and other minor things by the colleagues and higher authorities.

What are the two main committees constituted under PoSH Act?

The two main committees constituted under PoSH Act for preventing the sexual harassment at work place: Internal and Local Committees.

Internal Committee: It is mandatory for every organisation to set up an internal committee if the company is equipped with more than 10 or more employees. The committee is to be formed under the provisions of the PoSH Act and the quorum of members is to be decided according to the provisions of the legislation. The non-compliance of which will attract a fine of Rs.50,000.

Local committee: A local committee is established in each district for dealing with the matter of sexual harassment in the workplace. Before registering the complaint in the local committee, one should go to the internal committee. The committee is established under Section 5 of the PoSH Act by repealing &the Amendment Act of 2016.

Powers of the committee: With the introduction of two different committees, powers are also specified in the Act. The committee can

  • Summon and interrogate the accused person under the oath.
  • Can ask for the discovery of documents.
  • Any other things that are essential for the case.

The legislation deals with all the basic provisions such as definition, punishment, and appropriate channels to complain for any sort of physical and mental harassment faced by any women at their workplaces and it also assures that the women stays safe.

–Surbhi Singla

Associate at Aggarwals& Associates, S.A.S, Nagar Mohali.