Thursday, October 19, 2023

States/UTs Must Notify 'District Officers' Under Prevention Of Sexual Harassments Act : Supreme Court Issues Slew Of Directions

Read Judgment

The Supreme Court has issued a slew of directions to the Union government, and all State/UT governments to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) read with its Rules.

Significant among them is the mandatory direction issued by the Court that the States and Union Territories must appoint a "District Officer" as per Section 5 of the Act. Though Section 5 says that the appropriate Government may notify a District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate or the Collector or Deputy Collector as a District Officer, the Court read this as a mandatory condition.

The concerned Principal Secretary of the State/UT Ministry of Women and Child (or any other Department) will personally ensure the appointment of a district officer in each district within their territorial jurisdiction, as contemplated under Section 5 within four weeks from the date of this judgment.

Pursuant to this, each appointed district officer: (a) must in compliance with Section 6(2) appoint nodal officers in every block, taluka and tehsil in the rural or tribal area and ward or municipality in the urban area; (b)must constitute an LC, as contemplated under Section 6 and 7 of the Act; and (c) ensure the contact details of these nodal officers and LCs, shall be forwarded to the nodal person within the State Government Ministry of Women and Child Development within 6 weeks from the date of this judgment.

Due compliance with Section 21(1) and (2), and Section 22, must be undertaken by each District Officer, of the State including collecting the reports from the IC/employers (or information where no report is available), and from the LC, and preparation of a brief report to be shared with the State government.

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