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Shukla, R. Member, A. Affiliate, C. Counselor1, M. (2019). Sexual Harassment at the Judicial Workplace: Psycho-Legal Explorations. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 16(3):198-201.

(2019). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 16(3):198-201

International News

Sexual Harassment at the Judicial Workplace: Psycho-Legal Explorations

Rakesh Shukla, Advocate Member, Consultant Affiliate and Member Counselor1

The recent complaint of sexual harassment by a dismissed woman employee against the chief justice of India and possibly even more the manner of dealing with the allegation has hit the institution like a ton of bricks and focused attention on judges. The judiciary has been characterized by a sort of “above mere mortals” approach toward itself. In the absence of any law at the time, the Visakha judgment by the Supreme Court in 19971 laid down the law and procedure to be followed in cases of sexual harassment at workplace. The law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all institutions including courts.

That the courts have women employees is an indisputable fact. However, the apex court, rather than setting an example, itself never set up Internal Complaints Committees, and the undeclared perspective seems to have been that sexual harassment of women does not occur in courts. In terms of the setting, the court as workplace is not so different from other offices, except for being headed by judges. Again, without spelling it out, the assumption seems to have been that the august and moral persona of the judge and/or the hallowed function of being “temples of justice” would cleanse all “bad” and “polluting” from the human psyche.

1. Times are a Changing?

Parliament enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act in 2013. The Apex Court appears to have functioned without any Complaints Committee as mandated in 1997 by the Visakha judgment for about 16 years.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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