SC directs courts to form anti-sexual harassment panel

SC directs courts to form anti-sexual harassment panel

The bench asked the crime branch of Delhi Police to investigate the cross complaints filed by the lawyers. File Photo

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the chief justices and acting chief justices of all the high courts to set up a statutory committee at the high courts and every district court within two months for dealing with sexual harassment complaints.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud directed that such committee should be set up with quite a promptitude as per the mandate of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Vishaka guidelines (1997).

“No one should be a member of the committee, who is an accused in a criminal case,” the bench said.

The court passed its direction while dealing with a writ petition filed by a woman lawyer who said she was manhandled by a group of lawyers at Tees Hazari court here when she sought to appear in a case during the strike call. She had lodged an FIR in the matter while the other side, comprising lawyers, also registered a counter FIR in the matter.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the woman lawyers, claimed the counter FIR was not genuine. The court, however, said this question cannot be dealt with, in the case of the writ petition and it would be decided after investigation and trial. It restrained arrest of either of the parties and directed that Additional Commissioner of Police would conduct an investigation in both the FIRs.

As a large number of lawyers from district courts were present in the courtroom, the court directed that they would maintain peaceful atmosphere not only in Delhi but throughout the country in order to ensure fair and speedy trial in the highest tradition of the bar.