A Writ Petition, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in Kerala High Court for directing the concerned authorities to take steps to reconstitute the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) in several districts, mentioned in the petition, established under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) whenever its term expires.
Arguments raised by the Petitioner in the PIL:
- Basic contention raised by the petitioner was until or unless the Kerala High Court does not issue direction, provisions of POSH Act would not be effectively implemented in the State of Kerala.
- It was pointed out by the petitioner that there was an absolute failure on the part of the State Government, for ensuring functioning and re-constitution on expiry of the term, of the Local Complaints Committee in the State of Kerala as provided under POSH Act.
- It was further contended that non-implementation of provisions of the POSH Act will lead to violation of Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India.
- Petitioner also pointed out that even though the members were appointed in the Local Complaints Committee, they were not paid fees. Therefore, he prayed to Kerala High Court to issue directions to respondents to implement the provisions of the POSH Act, 2013 effectively.
Observations of the Court:
- After reading, the detailed statement filed by the respondents enumerating the steps taken to effectively implement the provisions of the POSH Act, 2013, the order dated 07.02.2022, passed by the Kerala High Court while taking into account the statement and the additional statement filed by the respondent explaining the steps taken in each of the district referred in the PIL filed by the petitioner to contend that effective steps were already taken for appointing the members of the Local Complaints Committee, Court observed that the grievances highlighted by the petitioner were already addressed by the State Government of Kerala by constituting Local Complaints Committee, in terms of the provisions of the POSH Act, 2013.
- Also, from the additional statement of the respondent, Court said that in compliance with the order dated 07.02.2022, issued by the Kerala high Court, fees were also paid to the members of the Local Complaints Committee and re-constitution of the Local Complaints Committee in one of the districts mentioned in the PIL was also done.
- Court said that as petitioner argued that the fees were not paid to the Committee members, ever since it was constituted, in Court’s opinion, any Committee member has any such grievance to that effect, it is the Committee member or the aggrieved person who should approach the Court or the Government in appropriate proceedings. Court considered that non-payment of fees to Committee member cannot be an issue for PIL, in the Writ Petition.
- Considering all the factual and legal situations, Court said that the petition can be disposed of by recording the detailed statement and the additional statement filed by the respondents and holding that the grievances highlighted by the petitioner were already addressed by the Government.
- Court ordered the respondents to take steps to re-constitute the Local Complaints Committee whenever its term expires, to strictly enforce the POSH Act, 2013. It is also directed that adequate steps shall be taken to implement the provisions of POSH Act, 2013 and POSH Rules.
- Finally, Court made it clear 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 POSH Act, 2013 and POSH Rules.
By all the observations and directs, Court disposed off the Writ Petition.
Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work & Riddhima Khanna