Effective Implementation of Anti-Sexual Harassment Law at Workplace – Measures Mandated by the Supreme Court

With a significant ruling in the case of Aureliano Fernandes v State of Goa and Othersi, the Supreme Court has highlighted several lapses and gaps in the implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”). The Supreme Court has prescribed several guidelines in the case and directed the State and non-State actors (for example educational institutions, private hospitals and nursing homes) to ensure the strict enforcement of the POSH Act in the interest of all working women and to make sure that the altruistic object behind enacting the POSH Act is achieved in letter and spirit.

In March 2009, an inquiry was initiated by the standing committee of Goa University against appellant, the head of the political science department in the University, to answer to the charges of physical harassment in nine complaints filed against him. The appellant alleged bias during the hearings of the standing committee held on April 27 and April 28, 2009. An additional complaint was filed against the appellant for which he sought extension to file a reply. The committee declined the appellant’s request to engage a lawyer and advanced the date of the next hearing from June 12, 2009, to May 12, 2009. The appellant was handed over with six more depositions and granted one last opportunity to present himself before the committee on May 23, 2009.