Posts tagged ‘Women’


The need for a law on protection of women from sexual harassment at the workplace first came to limelight in the case of Vishaka & Ors v/s State of Rajasthan & Ors AIR 1997 SC3011 (known as the Vishaka Case). The said case was heard in the Supreme Court on a Writ Petition filed by certain social activists and NGOs to bring attention towards the rampant gender bias and need for safety and security of working women.

While India, has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly, much was left to be done at the ground level. Emphasis on equality and protection of women has also been emphasized in the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and State Policy and the Fundament Duties, in the Constitution of India.

Keeping in view the same the Supreme Court framed guidelines for the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at the Workplace.

These guidelines have put the onus of taking preventive and redressal measures on the Employer.

Sexual harassment has been explained as any unwelcome sexually determined behavior, whether direct or by implication such as physical contact or advances; a demand or request for sexual favors; sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any unwelcome physical, verbal or non verbal conduct of sexual nature.

The guidelines have recommended a redressal mechanism. It provides for the constitution of a Complaints Committee, headed by a woman and having amongst its members an NGO or other body familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.

Where the action or harassment complained of amounts to a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code, the employer shall initiate appropriate action by making complaint with the appropriate authority.

Where the conduct complained of amounts to misconduct in employment as per the relevant service rules, then appropriate disciplinary action shall be initiated against the offender. Whether or not the conduct complained of amounts to an offence under the law, it is mandated that a redressal mechanism is created.

As important as the redressal measures, are preventive steps recommended by the Court. The employers is supposed to take steps such as express prohibition of conduct amounting to sexual harassment, prescribing penalties in the service rules and most importantly creating appropriate working conditions with adequate leisure, hygiene etc and ensuring that there is no hostile environment towards women and ensuring that no woman employee feels or apprehends that she is at a disadvantage because of her gender.

Keeping in mind the same The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Union Parliament in February 2013, and is awaiting the President’s Assent.

Naqsha H Biliangady
Mento Associates


As per the Karnataka Shops and Establishment Act, 1961 and the rules there under, there are certain prohibitions and restrictions in employing children, young persons and women in Shops and Establishments in Karnataka. As per this Act, a child is defined as a person who has not completed his 14th year. Similarly a young person is defined as a person who has completed his 14th year but not yet completed 18th year.
The Act prohibits the employment of children in any establishment. If anyone contravenes this provision, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months and which may extend to six months or with a fine which shall not be less than Rs. 10,000/- but which may extend to Rs.20,000/- or with both.
The Act also prohibits the employment of women or young persons during nights. If anybody contravenes this provision they are liable to punishment similar to punishment for child labor as mentioned above. State Government is empowered to exempt establishments of IT and ITES from the provisions relating to employment of women during night. The Government may impose conditions that such establishments which employ women during night time shall provide the facilities of transportation and security to such women employees. For the purpose of this act, night means a period of at least twelve consecutive hours, which shall include an interval between 8 pm to 6 am.
Every employer who intends to seek exemption to engage women employees during night shift shall make an application to the Commissioner for Labor or the Deputy Labor Commissioner having jurisdiction, with the list of women employees willing to work in night shifts. There shall be at least five women employees in one night shift.    

Karnataka State Commission for Women

Karnataka State Commission for Women was set up by an Act of 1995 with an objective for achieving all round development of the women. The commission consists of a chairperson and members who are nominated by the Government and few ex-officio members. The chairperson and other members hold office for a period not exceeding 3 years. The functions of the Commission includes:

(a) Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws;
(b) Present to the Government, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
(c) Make in such reports recommendations for the effective implementation of those safeguards for improving the conditions of women by the State;
(d) Review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution and other Laws affecting the women and recommend amendments thereto so as to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any lacuna or inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations;
(e) Take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities;
(f) Look into complaints and take suo-moto notice of matters relating to:-
(i) Deprivation of women’s rights;
(ii) Non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development;
(iii) Non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring welfare and providing relief to  women and take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities. 

The other functions of the Commission are:
(a) Call for special studies or investigation into specific problems or  situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal;
(b) Undertake promotional and educational research so as to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identify factors responsible for impending their advancement, such as, lack of access to housing and basic services, inadequate support services and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupational health hazards and for increasing their productivity;
(c) Inspect or cause to be inspected a jail, remand home, women’s institution or other place of custody where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise and take up with the concerned authorities for remedial action, wherever found necessary;
(d) Fund litigation involving issues affecting a large body of women;
(e) Participate and advice on the planning process of socio-economic development of women;
(f) Evaluate the progress of the development of women under the State,
(g) Make periodical report to the Government on any matter pertaining to women and in particular various difficulties under which women toil;
(h) Involve with voluntary organizations in the State, more particularly women’s organizations besides governmental departments and its agencies in the discharging of its functions;

The protection of Women from Domestic Violence (Part-2)

Last week we discussed the definition of Domestic violence. Similarly an act or omission, which has the effect of threatening the aggrieved woman, or any person related to her, constitutes domestic violence. The Act provides for registration of voluntary organizations as ‘Service Providers” for the purpose of this Act. An aggrieved person may file an application to the jurisdictional Magistrate seeking various reliefs under the Act. The magistrate shall endeavor to dispose every application within a period of 60 days from the date of hearing.

An aggrieved woman has various reliefs and rights under the Act. Section 17 provides the right to reside in a shared household, whether or not, she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same.

The Magistrate can pass various protection orders in favour of the aggrieved person prohibiting the respondent from committing acts of domestic violence, prohibiting entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person, prohibiting communication with the aggrieved person, prohibiting alienating assets, operating bank lockers used or held or enjoyed by both the parties etc. Other reliefs under this act include residence orders, monetary reliefs, custody orders, compensation orders, orders pertaining to the custody of children etc.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (Part-1)

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which came into existence from 26-10-2006, is a remarkable piece of legislation in the history of Independent India. The same is considered as an achievement by various human rights activists and women groups. Domestic Violence is a gender specific violence, which is directed against women, and it occurs within interpersonal relationship. The Act provides more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution, to victims of violence of any kind, occurring within the family. It treats Domestic Violence as a human rights issue. It aims to protect women from domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of Domestic Violence in the society.

The phenomenon of Domestic Violence is widely prevalent in the society but has remained largely invisible. The Act provides the appointment of ‘protection officers’ and ‘service providers’ in addition to the usual machinery of police and courts to enforce the various provisions of the Act.

Section 3 of the Act defines Domestic Violence. Accordingly, any act, omission, commission or conduct of the person which harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, weather manual or physical, of the aggrieved person, includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse shall constitute Domestic Violence. Further an act or omission which harasses, harms, injures, or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property constitutes domestic violence. ——-(To be continued)