Privacy Guidelines for POSH Cases is Case Specific

Bombay High Court: Privacy Guidelines for POSH Cases is Case-Specific

The Bombay High Court (“Court”), on 17th March 2022, issued a subsequent order to its order dated 24th September 2021, in the judgment of the P vs A & Ors., 2021, where it laid down a set a guidelines condemning the disclosure of the identities of the parties, even accidental disclosures, involved in matters falling under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 (“POSH Rules”). This subsequent order cleared the air around the application of the requirement of non-disclosure by stating that it was a case-specific order (mutually agreed to by the parties involved), and was not meant for general application.

This order is a result of an interim application under Order 1 Rule 8-A read with  Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 filed by Ms. Indira Jaising, representing ‘Forum Against Oppression of Women’ to seek clarification on the previous order.

The judgment dated 24th September 2021, among other strict guidelines, had condemned the disclosure of the names and details of the parties, and their witnesses, required such hearings to be conducted either in-camera or in the Judge’s Chambers, that disclosure of any information to the pubic/media or on social media without a special leave from the court shall amount to contempt of court.

Justice G.S. Patel said that such guidelines cannot be said to be applicable to a wider gamut of cases because such Rules of general applicability will have to be approved by the Full Court or the Hon’ble Chief Justice. Hence, a single judge will neither have the authority nor the jurisdiction to issue any such rules that will bind the Court in its entirety.  

Additionally, these inadvertent lapses were also addressed in an order dated 11th October 2021, where it was clearly held that the proceedings were so because of a consent order.

Justice Patel also clarified that Ms. Abha Singh herself had suggested to hold in-camera hearings, hiding the names of the parties, and protecting privacy, upon being informed of an appeal filed in the Supreme Court against the same.

Upon Ms. Indira Jaising being satisfied with the clarificatory order of the Court, Justice Patel disposed of the application.

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