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Delhi HC penalizes for false complaint alleging sexual harassment

July 29, 2019

The legislature of India brought in force the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and
Rules (2013) (hereinafter collectively referred to as “POSH laws”) with a view to safeguard the women against any incidents of harassment that may cause her distress and fear at workplace.

Where on one hand, the POSH laws provide for protection of women on the other hand it also aims to prevent its misuse as a tool to take out personal vengeance.

The Delhi High Court vide its judgement date July 9, 2019 in the matter of Anita Suresh vs. Union of India & Ors.[1] imposed a penalty of INR 50,000 on a woman who made false complaint alleging sexual harassment.

Brief facts

The Complainant made a written complaint alleging sexual harassment by her colleague wherein she mentioned that:

  1. She was seated with my colleagues when the accused came and commented indicating sexual advances.

  2. In the presence of my staff and other members the accused asked her to come alone to check the shortcomings of the male toilet when nobody is there, he will follow her soon.

The Internal Complaints Committee (hereinafter referred to as the “ICC”) established by the Employer examined the complaint and submitted its report wherein it observed that exact content of communication could not be established and relocated the complainant and the accused. The ICC examined the petitioner could not recollect the names of any of the persons present at the time of the incidents mentioned in the compliant. Also, when the petitioner was shown the relevant papers relating to the staff members present on that day but still she could not recollect the names.

Dissatisfied by the recommendations of ICC, the complaint appealed against the same.

Observations by the Court

The Court observed no merits in the complaint of the complainant on account of the following reasons:

  1. It was highly unlikely that she could neither give the name of the witnesses nor recognize the staff/ colleagues who she alleged witnessed the incident as states in her complaint.

  2. No persons who were on duty on the day of the incident supported the allegations of the petitioner.

  3. The Complainant did not even disclose the alleged comments before the ICC.

  4. The Complainant did not have a clean service record owing to gross misconduct towards her duty.

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[1]W.P.(C) 5114/201

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