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Vishaka Committee guidelines: Object will be defeated if women are coerced to withdraw complaints, says Bombay HC

The court said, “This object would be defeated if lady employees, who have complained against male employees, are coerced to withdraw their complaints so as to ‘sweep the dirt below the carpet’”.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: March 22, 2021 9:49:48 pm
Shubham Kar Chaudhari, Toolkit caseObserving this, the HC refused to quash a 2019 FIR against a man working as Assistant Teacher in an educational institution. (File photo)

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that the ‘Vishaka Committee guidelines’ laid down by the Supreme Court to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace are required to be strictly implemented, so that women employees are encouraged to take up jobs and to bring them in the mainstream along with male counterparts to become sources of earning for the family.

The court said, “This object would be defeated if lady employees, who have complained against male employees, are coerced to withdraw their complaints so as to ‘sweep the dirt below the carpet’”.

Observing this, the HC refused to quash a 2019 FIR against a man working as Assistant Teacher in an educational institution. It was filed by his colleague for offences punishable under Sections 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of Indian Penal Code in Aurangabad district.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Bhalchandra U Debadwar passed an order on March 18 after hearing a criminal application filed by the man seeking to quash the FIR stating that the woman, an original informant, was agreeable to settle the dispute with him and that she was ready to compromise after allegedly realising that she had filed the complaint against the applicant under a misunderstanding.

The court, however, observed that when the informant’s lawyer was addressing it, his discomfort was evident and the bench could gather from the portion of her affidavit that the informant “may have been compelled” to file the same along with the compromise undertaking, more so as she assured that in future she will not file a criminal complaint against the applicant.

The HC observed, “We find it unconscionable to accept such compromise as it would surely not be in the interest of justice and would be counter-productive.”

The HC disposed of the plea and held, “In view of the above, this Criminal Application, being devoid of merit is, therefore, dismissed.”

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