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Sexual harassment in my office by one of my colleague

By Shivendra Pratap Singh

I am a working lady and sometimes stay in office till late night due to some workload hence, used to stay in the office till 9 PM. I have been working in a private form so bound to follow the instructions of my boss. In fact, one of our colleague is very irritating such as interfering in my work without my desire.

Yesterday, he touched my private parts so as to show that it happened accidentally. Since he had the bad intention, therefore, one day he falsely said that my boss called me in his office. At the same time he followed me and locked the door from inside forthwith I entered the office. Unfortunately, there was no other staff except the peon. I strongly opposed his act thereafter he went out of the office.

Question from: Ahmedabad (Criminal law)

His act constitutes the offence of sexual harassment punishable under section 354 A of the Indian Penal Code. Even today women have been placed at various disadvantaged positions in the society due to gender differences and bias. In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241 the Supreme Court opined as sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that undermines dignity, equality of opportunity and treatment between women and men.

It projects unwelcome sexual advances or sexual overtures in order to commit sexual harassment.

Eventually, any action or gesture either directly or by implication aims at or has the tendency to outrage the modesty of a female employee generally falls under the terms of sexual harassment.

The act of sexual harassment violates the fundamental right of gender equality and the right to life and liberty. In Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration (1980) 3 SCC 526: the supreme court has opined that sexual harassment at the place of work is incompatible with the dignity and honour of a female and needs to be eliminated and there can be no compromise with such violations.

Your colleague has committed sexual harassment because his act was not innocent. He committed those acts especially with the intention to outrage your modesty. He knew the consequence of his acts because he tried to find suitable occasions for committing those acts.

The supreme court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan [(1997) 6 SCC 241] tried to define acts of sexual harassment as:

“A physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually-coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature constitutes an act of sexual harassment.”

You may file either a complaint or FIR for the offence of sexual harassment. This offence is punishable under section 354-A IPC. There must be a physical contact with sexual advances or overtures so as to commit sexual harassment.

Section 354-A is applicable in a situation where accused committed a series of same acts so as to advance sexual overture [(2017) 237 DLT 271]. All the ingredients of Section 354-A are fulfilled in your case so you may initiate criminal proceeding as soon as possible.

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