The Supreme Court has suggested that the courts should avoid a hyper-technical, and cold interpretation of service rules and regulations on prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. By leaning into the technicalities, the appellate mechanisms threaten to turn the entire process into a punishment for the victims.
The services rules and statuary regulations should be interpreted in such a way that they provide substantive justice.
The bench, headed by DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said that, “It is important that courts uphold the spirit of the right against sexual harassment, which is vested in all persons as a part of their right to life and right to dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. It is also important to be mindful of the power dynamics that are mired in sexual harassment at the workplace.”
The bench also expressed concern over the worrying trend of invalidation of sexual harassment cases by employing hyper-technical terms and services.
The statement was made while the bench oversaw a case under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. It was hearing an appeal made by the Border Security Force (BSF) which challenged a 2018 order by the Calcutta High Court, against a head constable who had sexually assaulted a male constable assigned under his care.