Sexual Harassment of Women at their Work Place
(Prevention) Bill, 2003
A Bill to provide for prevention of sexual harassment of women and women
employees that is work related or arises during the course of employment or
custodial in nature by anyone including their employers, superiors, colleagues
and matters connected therewith.
Be it enacted by Parliament in the fifty fifth year of the Republic of India as
Short title extent and commencement
This Act may be called the Sexual Harassment of Women at their Work
Place(Prevention) Act, 2003.
It extends to the whole of India.
It shall come into force with immediate effect.
Definition: In this Act, unless the Context otherwise requires -
"Appropriate Government" means in relation to the Centrally owned
undertakings or departments, the Central Government and in relation to the
other undertakings and departments, the State Government.
In relation to an establishment which is under control of the Appropriate
Government a person or authority appointed by the Appropriate Government for
the supervision and control of employees or where no person or authority is
appointed the Head of the Department.
In relation to an establishment under any local authority, the person appointed
by such authority for the supervision and control of employees or where no
person is so appointed the Chief Executive Officer;
In any other case, the person who or the authority which, has the ultimate
control over the affairs of establishment or house and where-such affairs are
entrusted to any other person whether called a Manager, Managing Director,
Managing Agent or by any other name, such person;
"Sexual Harassment" includes any avoidable sexual advances either verbal
or through gestures or through use of sexually suggestive or pornographic
material, and includes amongst others; whistling, sexually slanting and obscene
remarks or jokes; comments about physical appearance; demands for sexual
favours; threats, innuendoes; avoidable physical contacts, touching, patting,
pinching; physical assaults and molestation of and towards women workers by
their male colleagues, or any one who for the time being is in a position to
sexually harass the women.
"Woman" means and includes a woman employed, whether directly or through
any agency, for wages or for similar other considerations in any establishment,
house or industry, or at construction site, or a self employed women, and also
includes a student in an educational or other institution of learning.
"Work Place" means -
an agricultural field;
a place of sale of agricultural or other products;
a brick kiln;
a construction site;
a shop or business establishment;
any private office or house including a farm house;
any Government, semi Government establishment or department including telegraph
office, post office, telephone exchange etc;
a hospital or nursing home;
court premises, police stations; remand homes or other judicial establishments;
restaurants, clubs, hotels; resorts or any other hospitality establishments;
school, college, university or like institution;
a training institution;
an establishment wherein persons are employed for exhibition of equestrian,
acrobatic, athletic and other sports related performance;
any other place, where a woman visits in connection with work;
Conduct of sexual harassment to amount to misconduct in employment: Notwithstanding
anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the conduct of
sexual harassment would amount to misconduct in employment.
Joint responsibility of employer in offence of sexual harassment :Notwithstanding
anything contained in other law for the time being in force if an act of sexual
harassment is committed at a work place, the supervisor, manager and managing
director or the overall administrative head, shall also be joint responsibility
for the commission of sexual harassment in the establishment and irrespective
of the intention and prior meeting of minds; section 34 of the IPC shall be
made applicable in their case.
Women employees not to be harassed : No person being an employer or
manager or supervisor in charge of the officer/organisation or a factory or
establishment or any other work place or any other employee or any other person
shall indulge or caused to be indulged in sexual harassment of women employees.
Punishment for sexual harassment of women : Notwithstanding anything
contained in any other law for the time being in force whoever sexually
harasses a woman at work place shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a
term which may extend to five years or wit fine which may extend to twenty
thousand rupees or both.
Burden of proof : Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law
for the time being in force the onus of proving the innocence shall be on the
accused and the victim shall have the right to lead evidence in rebuttal.
Pleading in case of Harassed Women worker : Notwithstanding anything
contained in any other law for the time being in force the case of a sexually
harassed woman at a work place shall be pleaded at her option either by herself
or with her counsel or by a women's organisation or the trade union of which
she is a member.
Trial to be held in camera :At the option of the trial of an offence
committed under this Act shall be held in camera.
Criminal Proceedings :
Where the conduct of sexual harassment amounts to a specific offence under the
Indian Penal Code or under any other law, the employer shall initiate action in
accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority
ensuring that the victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated
against while dealing with the complaints of sexual harassment.
The employers shall at the option of the victim, transfer of the perpetrator or
the victim from the place of posting.
Notwithstanding anything contained in clauses (i) & (ii), where the
perpetrator of sexual harassment happens to be the employer of the victim, the
Complaint Committee shall at the option of the victim transfer the perpetrator
and ensure that the victim or witnesses are not victimized or discriminate
against while dealing with the complaint of sexual harassment.
Disciplinary Action : Where sexual harassment takes place at the
instance of or by the employer, the employer shall also initiate appropriate
disciplinary action in accordance with the rules relating to misconduct.
Complaint Mechanism : The employer shall create an appropriate complaint
mechanism as stated in section 14, within organisation for redressal of the
complaint made by the victim. Such complaint mechanism should ensure time bound
treatment of complaints.
Complaint Committee :
A complaints committee shall be constituted consisting of seven members headed
by a woman and not less than half of its members shall be women.
It shall include at least three non-government organisation or bodies familiar
with the issue of sexual harassment.
In case the establishment has a number of branches/offices etc. each such place
shall have a separate committee.
The committee shall complete its report within a period of six months from the
date of receipt of the complaint of sexual harassment from the victim.
The committee shall recommend appropriate punishment and the employer shall
implement the same.
It shall make an annual report to the Government department concerned, of the
complaints and action taken by them.
Third party harassment : Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of
an action or mission by any third party or outsider, employer and person
incharge will take all necessary and reasonable steps to assist the affected
person in terms of support and preventive action.
Special Officers to deal with the cases in the government office :
The appropriate government shall designate an female officer, to be the Special
Officer in every department or officer under its jurisdiction to deal with
cases arising out of this Act.
The Government shall widely publicize the designation and duties of such
Officer in every department or office.
The Special Officer so designated shall deal with complaints lodged by female
employees in her department or office or establishment and shall forward it to
the Complaint Committee, constituted under section 14, and the Complaint
committee shall complete the report within six months from the date of
receiving such complaints.
District Level Officer for every district :
The appropriate government shall appoint a female District Level Officer other
than those covered under section 6 (1), for every district to deal with cases
arising out of provisions of this Act within the jurisdiction of that district.
The District Level Officer specified in clause (i) shall be based in Labour
Department and shall look after the complaints of sexual harassment at
workplace by all women of the district irrespective of whether they are
employed in organised or unorganised sector or are self employed.
District Level Officer to make inquiries : As soon as a complaint has
been lodged with the District Level Officer, she shall investigate the matter
and shall direct the concerned employer to forward it to the Complaints
Committee constituted under section 14 to future inquire into the facts and
circumstances of the complaint and send a report to her in a time bound manner.
District Level Officer to ensure action against guilty : If after
inquiry, the District Level Officer receives a report against any person guilty
of violating the provisions of this Act, she shall -
in case the guilty is an employee of the Government, ensure that disciplinary
action is taken against him by appropriate authority.
in case the guilty (harassed) is not employed in Government service ensure that
the employer or other person in charge of the affairs of the organisation where
harasser is employed takes necessary action in accordance with the provisions
of this Act.
Duty of the Employer :
It shall be the duty of the employer to inform the Complaints Committee and
District Level Officer about the disciplinary action initiated against the
Where the employer himself is the accused the District level officer shall be
empowered to initiate the disciplinary action against such employer in
accordance with the service rules.
Non compliance of the report of District Level Officer : When no action
has been taken by the employer or the person in charge or the affairs of the
organisation where the accused is employed, on a report by the District Level
in case it is an office or establishment under the control of the appropriate
Government, the appropriate Government may terminate the services of both the
accused person and the person in charge of the office where the victim is
in case the work place where the victim is employed is not under the control of
government, the facilities and concessions extended to that organisation by the
appropriate government shall be withdrawn forthwith.
Power of the District Level Officer : A District Level Officer while
discharging her functions under the provisions of this Act shall have the
powers of a Civil Court and the proceedings thereof shall be in accordance with
the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Workers initiative : Employees should be allowed to raise issues of
sexual harassment at worker's meeting and in other appropriate forum, and it
shall be affirmatively discussed in employer-employee meetings.
Power to make rules : The Central Government may, by notification in the
Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act.