The petition was brought forward for the effective implementation of provisions of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in the State of Kerala. It is pointed out by the petitioner that there is an absolute failure on the part of the State Government to ensure proper functioning of the Local Complaints Committee in the State of Kerala, as provided under the Act 2013. This non-implementation the provisions of the Act, was a clear violation of Articles 14, 15, 19(1) (g), and 21 of the Constitution of India, according to the said petition.
Various contentions were raised by the petitioner alleging lethargy on the part of the State Government in appointing Local Complaints Committee and failure on the part of the Government to re-constitute the same on the expiry of the term of the committee.
CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS
The State government submitted that steps are taken to implement the provisions of the Act 2013 and the rules framed there under namely, Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013.
The learned Senior Government Pleader submitted that so far, 10907 institutions have been visited, out of which, 7204 institutions were found to have constituted Internal Committees and 1711 institutions were given notices calling upon to constitute internal committees. He further submitted that 368 complaints were received by various Internal Committees, throughout the State of Kerala, out of which 344 have been disposed of.
The Kerala HC observed that the issues raised by the petitioner in the said PIL are already resolved and addressed by the State Government by constituting the Local Complaints Committee, in terms of the provisions of the 2013 Act and the rules.
The Court however while disposing of the petition observed that since the Act 2013 is to be strictly enforced, respondents have to take steps to reconstitute the committee whenever its term expired. It is also directed that adequate steps shall be taken to implement the provisions of the 2013 Act and the Rules.
The Court emphasized the importance of public awareness and said that “sufficient publicity shall be made by the respondents with respect to the constitution of the Local Complaints Committee in contemplation of the provisions of the 2013 Act and Rules”.
Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work