Supreme Court upholds conviction of ex-Vice-Chancellor for sexual harassment.

A decisive verdict reaffirms commitment to women's rights and dignity in the workplace.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a review petition filed by a former Vice-Chancellor of a national institute, who was convicted of sexually harassing a female yoga instructor. The apex court also imposed a cost of Rs. 1 lakh on the petitioner for abusing the process of law.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala affirmed the judgment of 5 August 2022, which upheld the conviction and sentence of the former Vice-Chancellor under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Protection, and Redressal) Act 2013. The bench held that no error was apparent on the face of the record and that the conviction and sentence were based on cogent and reliable evidence.

The bench also observed that sexual harassment in any form at the workplace must be viewed seriously, as it violates the fundamental rights, human rights, and dignity of women. The bench quoted Justice Pardiwala’s earlier observation that “the same humiliates and frustrates the victim, more so when the harasser goes unpunished.” The bench further stated that “the dignity of a woman is a part of her non-negotiable fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and no one can take away the same on any pretext whatsoever.”

The case pertains to an incident that took place in 2019 when the former Vice-Chancellor allegedly made unwelcome physical contact and sexually colored remarks to the female yoga instructor who the institute employed. The victim complained to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the institute, which found the former Vice-Chancellor guilty of sexual harassment and recommended his termination. However, the former Vice-Chancellor challenged the ICC’s report before the High Court, which quashed the same and directed a fresh inquiry.

The victim then approached the Supreme Court, which set aside the High Court’s order and restored the ICC’s report. The Supreme Court also directed the trial court to complete the proceedings against the former Vice-Chancellor within six months. The trial court subsequently convicted and sentenced the former Vice-Chancellor to one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000. The former Vice-Chancellor then filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, which was dismissed on Monday.

The Supreme Court’s decision has been hailed as a landmark verdict that reaffirms the commitment of the judiciary to uphold the rights and dignity of women in the workplace. It also sends a strong message to the perpetrators of sexual harassment that they will not escape the consequences of their actions.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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