8 Aug 2023 4:00 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL filed by a practising advocate for the “strict implementation” of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“PoSH Act”) within the Calcutta High Court. Petitioner claimed that various RTIs filed by him revealed that the PoSH Act had not been complied with in its entirety.In noting...
The Calcutta High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL filed by a practising advocate for the “strict implementation” of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“PoSH Act”) within the Calcutta High Court.
Petitioner claimed that various RTIs filed by him revealed that the PoSH Act had not been complied with in its entirety.
In noting that such an issue could not be examined in a PIL, and highlighting the presence of a robustly functioning committee dealing with PoSH complaints arising at the Calcutta High Court, a division bench of Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya remarked:
We find the writ petition is absolutely premature. The prayer number A is founded on a reply obtained by the petitioner pursuant to a query raised under the RTI Act, and the petitioner prays for a show cause notice to the High Court at Calcutta on the contradictions in the RTI reply. From the petition we find, the petitioner who is a practising advocate, has failed to even make a representation to the Registry, which ought to have been done since the petitioner claims to be practising in this Court since 2019. A writ of mandamus can only be issued when there has been inaction by authorities, or a genuine representation is not acted on in accordance with law. The petitioner has not made any such representation and it appears that the writ petition is founded on replies obtained under the RTI Act. Therefore, we find that the writ petition is absolutely premature and cannot be entertained. However, it shall be open to the petitioner to make appropriate representation before the concerned forum.
Petitioner's counsel argued that the RTI query into the issue had thrown up “confusing data” and that there had been lapses by the High Court administration in implementation of the PoSH Act. It was submitted that there had been numerous aspects of the PoSH Act, which had not been implemented by the High Court, such as formation of the Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”).
Upon hearing the petitioner’s submissions, the Bench questioned the origin of the PIL, and orally remarked: "There's somebody behind this lawyer who has sponsored this litigation? We ask you this with some sense of responsibility...is somebody firing off the petitioner's shoulder? Considering events in the recent past, is the petitioner being used by somebody?"
It was submitted by petitioner's counsel that the PIL had been filed prior to the events being alluded to by the Bench and that the petition had highlighted various aspects of the PoSH Act which may have been overlooked by the High Court Administration during implementation.
The Court noted that there was already a dedicated PoSH complaints committee at the Calcutta High Court and that the petitioner’s grievance could not be addressed through a public interest litigation. In taking exception to the claim that a formal order constituting the ICC did not exist, the Bench orally remarked:
“If the information (under RTI) is incorrect, then appellate process is there. This cannot be examined in a PIL. This is purely a sensitive issue. It’s one thing to say that committee has not been constituted…it is there and it’s functioning very very effectively and on a frequent basis…cross examination, etc…even Saturday it is going on. (You say) no formal order is there. I think you are wrong…use the word traceable. Reason is, case files are dumped in the corridor, advocates have no responsibility…you cannot walk in the other corridor. In spite of my repeated requests, Bar has not responded. Therefore, you please use the expression properly. It is your institution. You shame the institution, you get shamed. Therefore, never say that there is no order. There is no order traceable, you please qualify.”
Case: Senjuti Chakrabarti Vs Learned Registrar General High Court At Calcutta And Ors
Coram: Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 215
Click Here To Read/Download Order