CASE ANALYSIS: VISHAKHA v. STATE OF RAJASTHAN
CITATION: AIR 1997 SC 3011: 1997 (5) SCALE 453: (1997) 6 SCC 241: (1997) SUPP 3 SCR 404
JUDGES: J. S Verma, C.J, Mrs Sujata, V. Manohar and B.N Kirpal, JJ.
DATE OF DECISION – 13/08/1997
TOPIC: Sexual Harassment at Workplace Amounts to Violation of Rights of Gender Inequality and Right to Life and Liberty
This writ petition was filed aiming to focus attention towards this societal aberration and assisting in finding suitable methods for realisation of the true concept of “Gender Inequality” and to prevent sexual harassment of working women in all places through judicial process and to fill the vacuum in existing legislature. Certain social activists and NGOs filed writ petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights and safeguarding of working women under Article 14, 19 and 21 of The Constitution of India. The immediate cause for the filing of writ petition was an incident of alleged brutal gang rape of a social worker in the village of Rajasthan.
Whether Gender Equality and guarantee against sexual harassment of working women at workplace requires guidelines and norms to be treated as law u/a 14 of the Constitution of India.
The fundamental right u/a 19 i.e Right to carry on any occupation, trade or profession depends on the availability of a “safe” working environment. Right to live means life with dignity. The primary responsibility for ensuring such safety and dignity through suitable legislation and the creation of a mechanism for its enforcement, is of the Legislature and the Executive. The meaning and content of the Fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution are of sufficient amplitude to encompass all the facts of gender equality including prevention of sexual harassment or abuse. Gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity which is universally recognised as a basic HUMAN RIGHT. Some provisions in the Constitution in addition to Art 14, Art 19(1)(g) and Art 21 which have relevance are Art 51(1), Art 15(3), Art 42, Art 51A(a) and Art 51(c).
Sexual harassment of women at workplace results to violation of the fundamental right of Art 14, Art 15 and Art 21 of the victim. Such violation attracts remedy u/a 32 right to constitutional remedies, where one can directly file a writ petition regarding the violations suffered by the victims.
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[Author Details: Upasana Borah is a 4th year B.B.A LL. B (Hons) student at N.E.F LAW COLLEGE GUWAHATI.]