Courts Should Consider Broader Context In Sexual Harassment Cases: Supreme Court

Posted On - 19 December, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

A female employee had filed a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace against the respondent which was initially submitted to the Inspector General and subsequently forwarded to several authorities including Chairperson of the National Women Rights Commission. Subsequently, the complainant submitted a second complaint containing additional allegations against the respondent. Although, two initial inquiries consisting of a fact-finding inquiry and a Frontier Complaints Committee inquiry failed to substantiate the allegations, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted the Central Complaints Committee to investigate the matter which found the respondent guilty of sexual harassment.

Upon moving the High Court, the High Court held that the Central Committee’s findings had overstepped its jurisdiction by considering allegations made in the second complaint. Thereafter, the Supreme Court was approached by way of Civil Appeal No. 6190/2023, wherein the High Court’s decision was set aside and the order of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority was upheld. Further, the Apex Court held that the Committee had not exceeded its jurisdiction by considering the second complaint. It further emphasized that cases involving allegations such as sexual harassment should be considered within the broader context of the entire case without being swayed by insignificant discrepancies or hyper-technicalities. The court should be cautious against showing any undue sympathy towards the accused in such cases.