HC Warns Govts, Sets Deadline For Display Of Norms Under Sexual Harassment Act In Odisha Offices
Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has set December 15 deadline for authorities under the Central and state government in Odisha to implement provisions of Section 19 (b) of Sexual Harassment of Women and Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
While hearing a PIL filed by Biyat Pragya Tripathy, a social activist seeking implementation of section 19 (b) of the Act, the two-judge bench of Chief Justice Subhasis Talapatra and Justice Savitri Ratho also cautioned the authorities about the possibility of facing contempt of court proceedings if they fail to comply with it.
“We direct all the authorities under the central government and state governments to comply with the direction of Section 19 (b) of the Act. The said direction shall have to be carried out within a period of three months from today,” the bench said in its September 15 order, a copy of which was made available on Tuesday.
It further emphasised that “failure to adhere to the aforementioned directives may result in contempt of court proceedings, and this court will take a stern stance if such violations are reported by any concerned citizen.”
The Act provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of such complaints, while Section 19 (b) prescribes display of penal provisions of sexual harassment — simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both and constituting an Internal Complaints Committee to inquire into grievances — at any prominent spot in a workplace.
On December 7, 2022, the HC had instructed government officials and other authorities to implement the provisions of Section 19 (b) and submit a compliance affidavit. With no significant progress being made in complying with the court’s directive despite several orders, the bench noted that the government had adopted a lackadaisical approach to implementing Section 19(b) in particular.