Apex court directs institutes to enforce Vishaka guidelines

The Supreme Court on Friday directed all state and private organizations, regulatory institutions like Bar Council of India (BCI) and Medical Council of India (MCI) to put in place all mechanisms to follow the guidelines set by the apex court in the 1997 Vishaka judgment to prevent sexual harassment of women at workplace.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave said all the states and Union Territories should amend their civil services rules within two months and form adequate number of complaints committees to ensure that they function at taluka, district and state levels.

These committees would be headed by a woman and would consist of one independent member, they said.

The court stressed on the need for new laws by Parliament and State Legislatures to protect women from any form of “indecency, indignity and disrespect” at all places, including their homes, to prevent all forms of violence – domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment at the workplace, etc.

It also called for initiatives to educate and advance women and girls in all spheres of life.

“The implementation of the Vishaka guidelines has to be not only in form but also in substance and spirit…. There is still no proper mechanism in place to address the complaints of sexual harassment of the women lawyers in Bar Associations, lady doctors and nurses in the medical clinics and nursing homes, women architects working in the offices of the engineers and architects and so on and so forth,” the court said.

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