Sexual harassment complaints deserve seriousness: Delhi HC
The Delhi HC has said sexual harassment complaints deserve to be treated with seriousness and cannot be quashed if the internal complaints committee does not conclude the proceedings within 90 days
The Delhi High Court has said sexual harassment complaints deserve to be treated with seriousness and cannot be quashed if the internal complaints committee does not conclude the proceedings within the legally stipulated 90 days.
Justice Vikas Mahajan said such complaints must be taken to their logical conclusion which is in the interest of the complainant as well as the accused.
The court’s observations came on a petition by a chartered accountant challenging the initiation of proceedings against him on the basis of a complaint filed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The petitioner challenged the proceedings against him on several grounds including that Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) failed to conclude its probe even 90 days after the complaint was filed. “I am prima facie of the view that the complaint of sexual harassment and the inquiry proceeding emanating therefrom cannot be quashed merely for the reasons that the internal complaints committee failed to complete the inquiry within the time frame given in Section 11(4) of the Act,” the court said in a recent order.
“Needless to say that such complaints containing allegations of sexual harassment deserve to be treated with a certain amount of seriousness and responsibility and accordingly, the same have to be inquired into and taken to their logical conclusion for it is both in the interest of the complainant as well as the person against whom the allegations of sexual harassment have been levelled,” it said.
The court said there was “no substance” in the petitioner’s stand on the proceedings getting vitiated on account of lapse of 90 days and that he has also not pointed out any prejudice caused to him on account of delay.
It noted it was not the case of the petitioner that the delay was attributable to the complainant.
The court refused to interfere with the proceedings "at this stage" and sought response from the complainant and ICC on the plea.