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Non-Constitution Of Internal Committee Under POSH Act In Violation Of Mandate Under Indian Laws; Delhi Court Punishes Srilankan Airlines

Sanya Talwar
25 Dec 2020 1:54 PM GMT
Non-Constitution Of Internal Committee Under POSH Act In Violation Of Mandate Under Indian Laws; Delhi Court Punishes Srilankan Airlines
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A Delhi court recently convicted SriLankan Airlines, holding them in violation of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013.Dev Saroha, Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts, Delhi, while answering the question of whether the Company had an internal committee as mandated under section 4 of the Act, functioning in Delhi division or in India...

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A Delhi court recently convicted SriLankan Airlines, holding them in violation of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013.

Dev Saroha, Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts, Delhi, while answering the question of whether the Company had an internal committee as mandated under section 4 of the Act, functioning in Delhi division or in India as per the Indian Law or POSH Act, observed that on the date of filing of the complaint by the complainant, the airline did not have the IC and neither did it have any permanent committee in terms of Vishakha guidelines in place.

The Court has stated that the Airline violated Section 4(1) of the Act which requires every organisation with 10 or more employees to have an Internal Committee (IC) in place in order to tackle complaints of sexual harassment within the workplace, thereby convicting the Airline in terms of Section 26 of the Act.

Facts:

It is the case of the complainant that she joined the services of accused Airlines as Secretary at New Delhi and thereafter, she as promoted to Sales Executive and worked in the office of Delhi since 1999 to 2011.

On 08.10.2009, the accused's local manager called the complainant in his office and misbehaved and sexually harassed her. Thereafter, the complainant reported the incident to the then Regional Manager.

It was alleged that the Airline deliberately delayed the inquiry on the pretext that an appropriate action would be taken against accused's manager.

Following this, incidents of sexual harassment continued to take place against the complainant.

An inquiry was later conducted by the police in the matter at the request of National Commission for Women and an FIR was lodged against the accused manager.

The Regional Manager Lalith De Silva was held guilty by the court in September this year for outraging the modesty of the complainant.

The complainant had also filed a complaint separately against the airline in December 2015 for violating the Indian law by not having a committee to deal with such matters.

The complainant had further alleged that the accused company did not have complaint committee as per Sexual Harassment for Women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act) 2013. She further submitted that the department of Women and Child has informed the Hon'ble Delhi High Court that the accused company did not have an internal committee as per Sexual Harassment for Women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act) 2013 on 11.11.2014, therefore, making the Airline liable under section 26 of the Act.

The Respondent Airline on the other hand claimed to have a committee consisting of Persons from Sri Lanka and only one person from NGO from India was taken. This is clear contravention of Section 4 of the POSH Act which, it was contended is a serious non implementation of India Laws.

The court held the airline guilty on a complaint by a former women employee, who was working as a sales executive at the airline's Delhi office when she was sexually harassed by its then Regional Manager (India) in 2009. 

What the Court held:

Court held that the company has violated Section 4 (1) of Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal Act) and is liable to be convicted u/s 26 of the same.

Even the respondent in his statement u/s 313 Cr.P.C. has submitted that the company had a committee as per their SPASH policy. This policy is not in compliance with Section 4 (1) of Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal Act) 2013. Section 4 (1) of the Act mandates that every employer of a workplace shall, by an order in writing, constitute a Committee to be known as the 'Internal Complaints Committee'. The violation of this law is a punishable offence under Section 26 of the Act with a fine of Rs 50,000," the court observed.

Therefore, in ultimate analysis as a result of trial, the accused SriLankan Airlines is convicted for the offence u/s 26 of Sexual Harassment for Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibtion and Redressal Act) 2013, Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha said.

The court will hear arguments on quantum of sentence on January 7.


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