POSH Rule 7

POSH Rule 7 And Opportunity To Be Heard Must Be Followed Strictly During IC Proceeding: Kerala HC

Facts of the case

After a complaint was filed against him on December 19, 2022, and he was found guilty, the petitioner came before the court asking for certain documents to be quashed and for him to be reinstated to service. The Internal Committee (IC) conducted an investigation as a result of the complaint, which a report was made. After receiving this report, the IC deemed it preliminary but sufficient to support the petitioner’s allegations, and as a result, a charge memo was issued.

Petitioner’s contention

The petitioner’s attorney contended that Rule 7 of the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Rules (POSH Rules) was violated during the proceedings. It was specifically argued that there had been a violation of the natural justice principles because the petitioner had not received the complaint and any associated documents, which is a necessary step. The petitioner’s inability to cross-examine witnesses or be present when they were being questioned served as further evidence of this violation.

Court’s Observation

The POSH Rules, in particular Rule 7, which requires that the complaint and any related documents be provided to the respondent (in this case, the petitioner), were flagrantly broken, the court found, the petitioner was not served with the complaint or given the opportunity to participate in the proceedings as required, the investigation carried out by the IC was deemed to have violated the principles of natural justice.

Court’s Decision

The court directed that a new committee should be constituted  in compliance with Section 4  (5) of the POSH Act, nullifying the previous IC report.  The petitioner expressed concern that the current committee president would be subject to disciplinary action, and this was taken into consideration when granting this directive. The court mandated that the petitioner be given a chance for a hearing and that the new proceedings be carried out strictly in accordance with Rule 7 of the POSH Rules and the principles of natural justice. It was required that the procedure be finished within two months of the judgment’s receipt date. In light of this, the writ petition was dismissed.

This ruling emphasizes how crucial it is to follow established procedural guidelines and natural justice principles, particularly when dealing with delicate issues like accusations.

-By Anaida Khan Pursuing 4th year of BALLB (Hons.) from Dharmashashtra National Law University, Jabalpur

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