SC Says No Vishaka Guidelines at Religious Places, Dismisses PIL

The Supreme Court on Monday, 22 July, dismissed a PIL seeking direction to implement sexual harassment committees in religious institutions.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that judicial orders cannot be passed on the plea as Visakha guidelines cannot be applied at religious places.

“Why don’t you file a criminal complaint? How can Vishaka guidelines be extended to religious places?” he said.

A PIL was moved in the apex court seeking extension of the Vishakha guidelines to religious places, including ashrams, madrasas and Catholic institutions, in order to check the steep rise in the incidence of sexual exploitation of women in such places.

Advocate Maneesh Pathak claimed in the petition that religious places constitute part of the workplace as many women are employed at the same besides others who are voluntary engaged with them.

In August 1997, the top court, in the Vishakha case, laid down as many as twelve guidelines which are to be followed by employers to prevent or deter acts of sexual harassment against women.

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