The Bombay High Court on 9th January 2019 in the matter of Sapana Korde Nee Ketaki A. Ghodinde v. The State of Maharashtra & Ors., observed that interfering with a woman’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for a woman at her workplace also amounts to sexual harassment of woman at workplace.
Facts: One Bhaskar Karbhari, the first informant, had lodged report against accused persons including appellant Sapana Korde. According to Bhaskar, the appellant along with other accused persons started defaming him so that he withdraws his FIR against them and in pursuance of the same, in the subject FIR, the appellant lodged a false complaint against him by email. An inquiry of that complaint the IC was ordered.
In the appellant’s complaint, she has categorically mentioned about the improper behaviour and abusive language used by Bhaskar Gaikwad to her. The appellant reported that Bhaskar Gaikwad was very abusive. Her complaint was forwarded to the IC.
The IC unanimously decided that it does not amount to sexual harassment at workplace. it needs to be dealt with by the appropriate Disciplinary Committee.
The IC however did not consider the provisions of Sub-Section (2) of Section 3 of the said Act, which enumerates few circumstances reflecting sexual harassment of women at workplace.
Observations of the High Court:
- Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for a woman at her workplace also amounts to sexual harassment of woman at workplace.
- Giving a humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety of a woman at her workplace also amounts to sexual harassment of woman at workplace. The complaint of appellant Sapana Korde ought to have been considered by keeping in mind these circumstances.
- In the case in hand, there is no pronouncement by the IC that the complaint lodged by appellant Sapana Korde is false, malicious or vexatious. On the contrary, the Committee said that the complaint is not in respect of the sexual harassment, but it is in respect of misbehaviour and misconduct of the subordinate with the superior.
- There is no finding by any of the authority that the complaint or subsequent statement of appellant made to a public servant is false or frivolous for causing injury or annoyance to First Informant.
- The Court allowed the appeal.