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What is POSH, India’s anti-sexual harassment statute, and how does it work?

In 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act was passed, defining sexual harassment and giving down the procedures for filing a complaint and conducting an investigation, as well as the actions that must be performed. During the #MeToo movement, a number of women in India accused powerful individuals of sexual harassment, including actors, stand-up comedians, and top journalists.

In accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013, the Kerala High Court on Thursday (March 17) ordered organisations associated with the film industry to take steps to form a joint committee to deal with cases of sexual harassment of women.

In doing so, the court emphasised that film production companies must follow the law against sexual harassment, also known as the POSH Act, which was passed by Parliament in 2013. During the #MeToo movement, a number of women in India accused powerful individuals of sexual harassment, including actors, stand-up comedians, and top journalists.

The rule against sexual harassment and how women may lead the transformation of the film industry-

In 2013, the Government passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redress) Act. It defined sexual harassment, outlined the processes for filing a complaint and conducting an investigation, and specified the appropriate course of action. The Vishaka guidelines, which were previously in effect, were widened.

The Supreme Court established the Vishakha rules in a 1997 ruling. This occurred in a case brought up by women’s rights organisations, one of which being Vishaka. They had launched a public interest lawsuit against Bhanwari Devi, a social worker from Rajasthan, who was allegedly gang-raped. She had stopped the marriage of a one-year-old daughter in 1992, resulting in the claimed gang rape as a form of retaliation.

he legislation and the guidelines

The legally enforceable Visakha principles defined sexual harassment and set three key tasks on institutions: prohibition, prevention, and reparation. The Supreme Court ordered that a Complaints Committee be established to investigate complaints of sexual harassment of women in the workplace.

It stipulated that each office or branch with ten or more employees must establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). It established protocols and defined numerous components of sexual harassment, including the aggrieved victim, who might be a woman “of any age, employed or unemployed,” who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment.”

This meant that the Act safeguarded the rights of all women working or visiting any workplace in any capacity.

Sexual harassment is defined as:

Sexual harassment, according to the 2013 law, is defined as “anyone or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” perpetrated directly or indirectly:

* Advances and physical touch

* A request or demand for sexual favours

* Remarks with a sexual connotation

* Displaying pornographic material

* Any other sexually inappropriate physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct.

A list of specific cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, these include, in general:

* Sexually suggestive or innuendo remarks; serious or frequent offensive remarks; inappropriate queries or remarks concerning a person’s sexual life

* Posters, MMS, SMS, WhatsApp, or emails with sexist or insulting images, messages, or emails

* Threats, intimidation, or retaliation against an employee who speaks out about sexual favours; furthermore, threats, intimidation, or reprisal against an employee who speaks up about these issues.

* Unwelcome social invites with sexual implications, which are frequently misinterpreted as flirting

* Sexual approaches that aren’t welcome.

When a victim feels guilty or powerless, “unwelcome behaviour” occurs, causing rage, despair, or low self-esteem. It goes on to say that unwelcome behaviour is “illegal, degrading, intrusive, one-sided, and power-based.”

In addition, the Act defines sexual harassment as an implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her workplace; an implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment; an implied or explicit threat about her current or future employment status; interference with her work or creating an offensive or hostile work environment; and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

For any type of assistance feel free to contact us or reach us at: – MG Associates (Company Secretaries)- CS Manisha Mittal – 70152-77705

Complaint’s procedure

In theory, the aggrieved victim does not have to register a complaint in order for the ICC to act. The Act states that she “may” do so, and that if she is unable to do so, any member of the ICC “must” provide her with “all reasonable help” in filing a written complaint. If the woman is unable to file a complaint due to “physical or mental incompetence, death, or otherwise,” her legal heir may.

The complaint must be filed “within three months of the date of the incident,” according to the Act. However, if “it is satisfied that the circumstances precluded the woman from making a complaint within the stated period,” the ICC can “extend the time limit.”

The ICC “may” take steps to address the dispute between the aggrieved woman and the respondent through conciliation “before to the commencement of an investigation” and “at the request of the aggrieved woman” — provided that “no monetary settlement shall be established as a basis of conciliation.”

The ICC has two options: it can either refer the victim’s complaint to the police or it can launch an investigation that must be concluded within 90 days. In terms of summoning and interrogating anyone under oath, as well as requiring the discovery and production of documents, the ICC has powers similar to those of a civil court.

The ICC must present the employer with a report of its findings within 10 days of the conclusion of the investigation. Both parties are given access to the report.

The identity of the woman, respondent, witness, and any information about the investigation, recommendation, and action taken shall not be made public, according to the Act.

Few Questions on POSH Act 2013 and Its Implications

Following the ICC findings,

If the sexual harassment claims are proven, the ICC advises the employer to act “in accordance with the provisions of the company’s service regulations.” These may differ from one company to the next. It further suggests that the company deduct “as it may judge appropriate” from the income of the person found guilty.

Compensation is established based on five factors:

  • the woman’s suffering and emotional distress,
  • her loss of job potential,
  • her medical expenses,
  • the respondent’s income and financial situation, and
  • the payment’s practicality.

Within 90 days of receiving the recommendations, the aggrieved woman or the respondent can file an appeal in court.


False or malicious complaints and false evidence are punishable under Section 14 of the Act. In such a circumstance, the ICC “may suggest” to the employer that the lady or the person who filed the complaint be disciplined “in accordance with the norms of the service regulations.”

The Act, on the other hand, makes it explicit that action would not be taken if the complainant is unable to “substantiate the charge or present acceptable proof.”

For any type of assistance feel free to contact us or reach us at: – MG Associates (Company Secretaries)- CS Manisha Mittal – 70152-77705

I have done my best to provide all the specifics, but please accept my apologies if any of the information supplied is incorrect. Please feel free to comment, interact, and propose topics for future posts.

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Manisha's potential cannot be elucidated in words. Her passion for writing knows no bounds. Associate Member of the Institute of Company Secretary of India and also holds a bachelor’s degree in Law. Having experience of more than 4 years of Forming Producer companies, Public and private companies View Full Profile

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June 2024