POSH Act applicable to girl students of a school: HC
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court observed that the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is applicable to girl students of a school.
A bench comprising, Justice Harsih Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samantha, placed relaince on the defination of 'aggrieved woman' as provided under Section 2 (a) of the 2013 Act. "As per Section 2 (a) an aggrieved woman means in relation to a workplace, a woman, of any age whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment by the respondent. That being so, the provisions of the Act squarely apply to the students of the school," the court ruled during the hearing of a plea by a teacher of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Ravangla, South Sikkim against whom 67 students had complained of sexual harassment. The plea was heard by the court on December 7, 2021 and the judgment was given on January 24, 2022.
On February 15, 2020, the principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Ravangla, South Sikkim had filed a written complaint against the petitioner with the Officer-in-Charge of Ravangla Police station. Following which, he was arrested by the Investigating Officer. Subsequently, he was released on bail by the concerned Court. And thus he was also suspended by the school authorities. The petitioner contended that since the complaint levelled against him is of the nature of sexual harassment at the workplace, the respondent school authorities should have constituted an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and that such a committee should have deemed to be the inquiring authority.
On the other hand, the respondent school authorities contended that the POSH Act will not apply to school students. However, the Court rejected the contention of the school that the 2013 Act.