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All unwelcome physical contact not sexual harassment: HC

NEW DELHI: All unwanted physical contact cannot be called sexual harassment unless it is a sexually oriented behaviour, the Delhi high court has said.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who made the observation, also said that even an accidental physical contact, though unwelcome, would not amount to sexual harassment.
"Similarly, a physical contact which has no undertone of a sexual nature and is not occasioned by the gender of the complainant may not necessarily amount to sexual harassment," the court said.
The observations by the bench came during the hearing of an appeal by a CRRI scientist challenging the clean chit given by the complaints committee and disciplinary authority to her former senior colleague, whom she had accused of sexual harassment.
Both of them were working in the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) which is a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The allegation pertained to an incident of April 2005 when the man had entered the laboratory where the woman was working and had snatched samples from her hand, thrown the materials and pushed her out of the room.
The woman had contended that any unwelcome physical contact would amount to sexual harassment.
The Complaints Committee after examining her complaint had concluded that "it was a case of an altercation in the background of the uncongenial environment prevailing in the division".

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