In its decision, the Supreme Court defined sexual harassment as any unwanted, sexually motivated physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct against a woman. For example, making a sexual remark about a coworker, requesting sexual favours, viewing pornography, or engaging in inappropriate behaviour at work. All of this can have an impact on women’s personal and professional lives.
It is critical to ensure that the PoSH Act 2013 is effective in preventing workplace harassment. This necessitates extensive knowledge among the employer, employees, and other corporate personnel. Furthermore, women employees or workers who are subjected to harassment may be unaware that there is something they can do about it. Some highly educated fools feel that the issues must be resolved between the two parties concerned in order to preserve the dignity of their firm. However, in this blog, we are gonna discuss about the ignorance of same-gender complaints in the POSH act.
The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act of 2013 has undergone many revisions in recent years to make the legislation more inclusive. Since its establishment, the PoSH Act has been a gender-specific statute, with only women being able to make use of the legal remedies offered by the Act. In January 2021, the Calcutta High Court issued a decision.
The Calcutta High Court’s decision might spark a debate in India about the necessity for gender-neutral rules on sexual harassment and assault. The POSH Act is gender-specific in nature, and only women have legal recourse under it. In a case of sexual harassment, the Calcutta High Court ruled that complaints of sexual harassment made by individuals against people of the same gender would be recognised under the POSH Act.
The same-gender complaints were found to be admissible under the PoSH Act.
Internal Complaints Committee, Vivekananda College & Ors. vs. Dr. Malabika Bhattacharjee The Court correctly observed that because a responder is referred to as a “person” in Section 2(m) of the Act, it must be assumed that the person can identify as any gender. Because it is a same-gender complaint, no law in the PoSH Act must be taken aside, according to the same ruling.
Brief facts of the summary of this case
A writ petition was filed in court challenging the judgments and actions of a certain institution’s Internal Complaints Committee, which refused to accept a complaint submitted under the Act because both parties were of the same gender. While the petitioner argued that the Act did not address same-gender complaints, the respondent argued that the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015 include regulations that are broad enough to cover same-gender sexual harassment complaints.
What was held?
The Court determined that nothing in Section 9 of the PoSH Act prohibits same-gender complaints. The High Court made a significant remark regarding how, while an allegation of same-gender sexual harassment may seem unusual, it is not unheard of. As a result, it must be accorded the same weight as a complaint from the opposing gender. The Court highlighted key portions of the Act that expressly state that the offender and victim might be of the same gender, such as Section 3 of the Act (2).
In essence, the Court ruled that “sexual harassment” as defined by the Act must “pertain to the dignity of the person,” but that this does not exclude same-gender assaults on the dignity of others.
Sexual harassment cannot be categorised on the basis of gender. Irrespective of the place and gender sexual harassment to a person who causes them discomfort should be equally punishable. It is critical to ensure that the PoSH Act 2013 is effective in preventing workplace sexual harassment. This necessitates extensive knowledge among the employer, employees, and other corporate personnel.
The ruling of the Calcutta High Court may start a debate in India about the need for gender-neutral sexual harassment and assault laws. Only women have legal recourse under the POSH Act, which is gender-specific in nature.