Sexual harassment in my office by one of my colleague

by | Apr 1, 2017

I am a working lady and sometimes stay in office till late night due to some workload hence, used to keep in the office till 9 PM. I have been working in a private firm so bound to follow the instructions of my boss. One of our colleagues is very irritating such as interfering in my work without my desire.

Yesterday, he touched my private parts to show that it happened accidentally. Since he had bad intention, therefore, one day he falsely said that my boss called me in his office. At the same time, he followed me and locked the door from inside forthwith. I entered the office. Unfortunately, there was no other staff except the peon. I strongly opposed his act; after that, he went out of the office.

Question from - Criminal Law | Sexual Offences

His act constitutes the offence of sexual harassment punishable under section 354 A of the Indian Penal Code. Any action or gesture either directly or by implication aims at or has the tendency to outrage the modesty of a female falls under the terms of sexual harassment.

By committing those acts he projected unwelcome sexual advances or sexual overtures in order to commit sexual harassment. Therefore, he committed the offence punishable under section 354 A of IPC.

Even today women have been placed at various disadvantaged positions in society due to gender differences and bias. In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241 the Supreme Court opined that sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that undermines dignity, equality of opportunity and treatment between women and men.  

The supreme court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan [(1997) 6 SCC 241] tried to define acts of sexual harassment as:

“A physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually-colored remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature constitutes an act of sexual harassment.”

In Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration (1980) 3 SCC 526: the supreme court is reiterated that sexual harassment at the place of work is incompatible with the dignity and honor of a female and needs to be eliminated and there can be no compromise with such violations.

You should file an FIR as soon as possible. Inordinate delay in filing of FIR may weaken your case and may infer that you have made false story against the accused.

Your colleague has committed sexual harassment because he knew the consequences of his actions as well as he desired to commit those actions with criminal intention i.e. to outrage your modesty. The sexual harassment offences have been strictly interpreted and accused cannot take the defence that his action was done innocently or unintentionally.

All the ingredients of section 354-A are found in your case so you may initiate criminal proceeding as soon as possible.

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You can ask your question to Mr Shivendra Pratap Singh, (Advocate, High Court Allahabad, Lucknow Bench)

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