CASE LAW BRIEF
Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH)
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Case Law Brief Report to be made available to both the parties
Case Brief Title
Ms. Pushpanjali Padhy vs. Indian Overseas Bank
RTI; PoSH; ICC Report; CIC; CIPO
Acts and Sections Referred to
RTI Act Sec. 8 (1) (b), (c), (g) and (j); The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 Sec. 16, Sec. 25, Sec. 11 (1) and Sec. 13 (1)
Ms. Pushpanjali Padhy
Central Public Information Officer, Indian Overseas Bank
Case Brief: An application was filed by the complainant to the Central Information Commission (CIC) regarding non provision of a copy of the inquiry report of the ICC for the complaint filed by the complainant against a colleague. The application under the RTI Act was filed with the Central Public Information Officer (CIPO) of the organization who denied the same under relevant provisions of the RTI Act. The complainant went into an appeal with the CIC seeking directions for the CIPO to share the information sought by the applicant. Judgement: The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) observed that the Respondents, besides referring to Sec. 16 and Sec. 25 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, also referred to Sec. 13, as per which on the completion of an inquiry, the Internal Complaints Committee or the Local Complaints Committee, as the case may be, shall provide a report of its findings to the employer or, as the case may be, the District Officer within a period of ten (10) days from the date of completion of the enquiry and "such report be made available to the concerned parties." The Respondents stated that the inquiry was conducted by an Internal Complaints Committee of the Regional Office at Berhampur. They further submitted that the Appellant should approach the Internal Complaints Committee and the information desired by her would be provided to her "immediately". In view of the assurance of the Respondents regarding the immediate provision of information upon the Appellant approaching the Internal Complaints Committee, intervention by the Commission in this matter in respect of the provision of information is not necessary. We now come to the Appellant's request for an award of compensation to her. It is noted that Sec. 16 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, cited by the CPIO, deals with publication of the recommendations etc.
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of the Internal Complaints Committee in press and media and not provision of such information to the parties concerned. Further, Section 25, also cited by the CPIO, deals with the "appropriate Government" calling for information. This Sec. too does not apply to the provision of information to the parties. As stated above, Sec. 11 (1) and Sec. 13 (1) make a provision for the findings to be made available to both the parties which do not appear to have happened so far. The CPIO appears to have invoked Sec. 8 (1) (b), (c), (g) and (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 rather casually, without Ms. Pushpanjali Padhy vs. Indian Overseas Bank on 30th March 2016 justifying the same. No submission has been made regarding any court of law having expressly forbidden disclosure of the information sought in this case. Therefore, Sec. 8 (1) (b) does not apply. Sec. 8 (1) (c) exempts from disclosure the information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature. This is clearly not applicable in the instant case. The CPIO also did not state as to how the disclosure of the information would endanger the life or physical safety of any person, to warrant invocation of Sec. 8 (1) (g). Sec. 8 (1) (j) also is not relevant as the information was sought by one of the parties. Further, while the CPIO advised the Appellant to follow Sec. 13 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 to get the information needed by her, he ignored Sec. 13 (1), which requires the employer to make the report available to the concerned parties, without requiring those parties to make a demarche in that regard. Because of the above approach adopted by the CPIO, endorsed by the FAA, the Appellant has had to pursue the matter through the RTI route all this while to get the information, thereby undergoing considerable harassment. It is not possible to quantify in monetary terms the detriment suffered by an applicant placed in this situation. However, by virtue of the power vested in us under Sec. 19 (8) (b) of the RTI Act, we direct the Respondents to pay a token compensation of INR 2000/− (Rupees Two thousand only) to the Appellant. The CPIO should ensure that this payment is made to her, within ten (10) days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission 6. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of. Copies of this order to be given free of cost to the parties.
1. The Sec. 11 (1) and Sec. 13 (1) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 make a provision for the inquiry findings to be made available to both the parties by the ICC 2. Sec. 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act denying information to the applicant does not apply in the present case
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