BACKGROUND

Vishaka & Others v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3011) is a landmark judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in 1997, wherein various women’s groups filed Public Interest Litigation (“PIL”) against the State of Rajasthan and the Central Government of India to enforce the fundamental rights of working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The PIL was filed after Ms. Bhanwari Devi, a social worker in Rajasthan, was brutally gang raped for stopping a child marriage.

In 1997, there was no law pertaining to sexual harassment at workplace, the Hon’ble Supreme Copurt relied upon International Conventions and norms which played a significant role in the interpretation of gender equality, right to work with human dignity under Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution and stated that the safeguards against sexual harassment are implicit under the aforementioned Articles. The Supreme Court laid down the guidelines which are often referred to as the “Vishakha Guidelines”.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed in 2013 which is effective from April 23, 2013 (“POSH Act”), superseded the Vishakha Guidelines.

DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS BY COMPANIES

1. Under POSH Act

Section 21: Committee to submit annual report

(1) The Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, shall in each calendar year prepare, in such form and at such time as may be prescribed, an annual report and submit the same to the employer and the District Officer.

(2) The District Officer shall forward a brief report on the annual reports received under sub-section (1) to the State Government.

 Section 22: Employer to include information in annual report

The employer shall include in its report the number of cases filed, if any, and their disposal under this Act in the annual report of his organisation or where no such report is required to be prepared, intimate such number of cases, if any, to the District Officer.

2. Under Companies Act, 2013 and LODR 2015

  • LISTED COMPANIES: The reporting of sexual harassment cases received, disposed of and pending during the financial year is done on an annual basis only:

Disclosure Requirements by Companies for Sexual Harassment Complaints

    • All listed companies provide for the details in the Corporate Governance Report which forms part of the Annual Report. It is a mandatory requirement under the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (“LODR”) under Section (C) of Schedule V – item 10(i).
    • Additionally, top 1000 listed companies are required to report the number of cases filed by the employees during the year and number of cases pending at the end of the financial year in the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report prescribed under Regulation 34 of LODR. Further, data of the previous financial year is also required to be reported in the same format. This forms part of Principle 5 – PRINCIPLE 5 ‘Businesses should respect and promote human rights’.

Please note that the stock exchanges rely on the data provided by the listed companies in their Annual Report.

  • OTHER THAN LISTED COMPANIES: Separately, please note that all other companies (other than listed companies) are also required to provide details of the sexual harassment cases received, disposed of and pending in the Board’s Report. This is prescribed under Section 134 of Companies Act, 2013 (“Act”) read with Rule 8 of Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 (“Rules”). Pursuant to the 2017 amendment to the Act and the 2018 amendment to the Rules (effective from April 1, 2021), the Board’s Report is also required to state that the company has complied with the provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Committee.

Author Bio

Qualification: LL.B / Advocate
Company: Centrum Group | Ex-Taya
Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Member Since: 15 May 2020 | Total Posts: 16
www.madhavilakhotia.com | Madhavi is a corporate lawyer who works as an in-house corporate counsel in the Group Legal team of Centrum India, an integrated financial services group. Madhavi holds an LL.M. in Corporate and Financial Laws from Jindal Global Law School. She is also an Associate Company View Full Profile

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