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Delhi High Court: All unwelcome sexual contact is not harassment

The appeal was filed against the decision of Complaint Committee and Disciplinary Authority which exonerated the accused from the charges of sexual harassment. The High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of the authority.
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The Delhi high court dismissed an appeal filed by women employee of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research against her colleague accusing him of sexual harassment. The court ruled that all types and kinds of physical contacts cannot be categorized as sexual harassment unless the contact is the nature of unwelcome sexually determined behaviour.

The appeal was filed against the decision of Complaint Committee and Disciplinary Authority which exonerated the accused from the charges of sexual harassment. The High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of the authority.

It was alleged by the women that the accused had stormed in the CSIR laboratory where the women was working and he snatched the samples from her and pushed her and locked her out of the laboratory. 

Justice Vibhu Bakhru held that all unwelcome physical contact cannot be said to be sexual harassment and only such physical contact or advances which is in the nature of unwelcome sexually determined behaviour are categorised under sexual harassment.

The court noted that the complaint committee has held in its order that though the accused has held her arm and also pushed her in anger and the same can be the case of harassment but the said incident does not qualify to be the incident of sexual harassment as there was no sexually determined behaviour involved in the incident.

The appellant women contended in the court that all kinds of physical contact which are unwelcomed should be part of sexual harassment. However, the court held that it is beyond doubt that the physical contact which are part of the sexually determined behaviour are the instances of sexual harassment and such behaviour should be sexually oriented.

The court further held that the behaviour which has not initiated because of person’s gender or which has no underlying sexually determined behaviour is not sexual harassment.

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Reviewed by:
Mehak Sharma
Published on 03-Nov-17
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