SC asks HCs to form anti-sexual harassment panels in all courts

The Supreme Court on Friday asked chief justices or acting chief justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in courts across the country within two months in accordance with a 2013 law

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked chief justices or acting chief justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in courts across the country within two months in accordance with a 2013 law.

The top court’s order came on a petition filed by a practising woman advocate who alleged that she was assaulted by some lawyers observing a strike at the Tis Hazari district court complex.

It also requested Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal of the Delhi High Court to constitute the panel in the high court and in all district courts in the national capital within a week.

 

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, asked the woman lawyer and the Bar leaders to amicably settle their disputes and directed that advocates from both sides should not be arrested in connection with the two cross FIRs filed by them against each other.

The bench asked the crime branch of Delhi Police to investigate the cross-complaints filed by the lawyers.

The bench transferred the trials, which would arise from the two cross FIRs to the Patiala House district court in New Delhi and asked the Bar leaders not to interfere with the administration of justice.

The bench then disposed of a writ petition filed by the lady lawyer against the advocates and some members of Delhi Bar Association for allegedly assaulting her.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013 requires every workplace to set up committees to probe sexual harassment complaints.

The law requires workplaces to form Internal Complaints Committees to hear cases of sexual harassment at work. For workplaces with fewer than 10 employees, or when the employer himself is accused, district officers are required to form “local committees” to receive the complaints under the law’s Section 6.