|Early Times Report|
Jammu, Apr 17: In a PIL, seeking implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013, a high court division bench of Chief Justice Baddar Durez Ahmed and Justice Alok Aradhe today issued notice to Union of India through secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and J&K through secretary, Social Welfare, Health and Medical Education.
The ASGI accepted notice on behalf of Union of India whereas deputy AVishal Bharti accepts notice on behalf of the state.
The bench directed that the state would file a short affidavit within two weeks indicating as to whether the Act had been implemented and to what extent it had been implemented in J&K.
During the course of hearing, the petitioner submitted that gender-based harassment of women at workplace 'leads to violation of their fundamental Right to Equality under Articles 14 and 15 , Right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 and Right to practise any profession or to carry out any occupation under Article 19(g) .
The Supreme Court, in Visakha v/s State of Rajasthan case, had said that harassment at a workplace was a special type of crime and general penal provisions could not deal with it. Thus in the absence of any special legislation to deal with the issue , the apex court had laid down guidelines to deal with the menace of gender-based harassment of women at workplace, which under Article 141 of the Constitution , were to be treated as a binding law. After 16 years , Parliament had passed Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 , which was almost a replica of Visakha guidelines. This Act extends to the whole of India including J&K. The petitioner alleged that this Act had not been fully implemented in J&K despite the fact that 'we hear of many gender harassment cases in our state'.
The petitioner sought a direction to Union of India to direct all central government establishments in the state, including banking institutions, to constitute Internal Complaint Committees under the Act and also sought directions to the state to direct all deputy commissioners in J&K to constitute Local Complaint Committees under the Act in their respective districts and to initiate steps for getting the ICCs constituted at each workplace, employing more than 10 workers, including the industrial units, within the state jurisdiction.