Bombay High Court bars media reporting of sexual harassment cases at workplace
Mumbai : The Bombay High Court has issued a stringent set of guidelines for hearing, dealing, and reporting of cases related to sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The court also notified that no media reporting on judgements will be allowed without prior approval.
The order has been passed by Justice GS Patel to protect the interest of both accused and victim parties in such cases.
The guidelines related to conducting hearings, passing and uploading of orders, reportage on cases of sexual harassment of women at the workplace are one of the first such norms formulated by the HC.
In a detailed order passed on Friday, a bench of Justice Gautam Patel said that henceforth, all proceedings under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (POSH Act), 2013, will only be heard in-camera or in the judge’s chambers. Orders in such cases will not be uploaded on a court’s website, and the press will not report on a judgment passed under the Act without the court’s permission, the HC said.
Justice Patel took note of the fact that so far there were no set rules for such cases; therefore 'working protocol' has been issued for all the future cases.
"Both sides and all parties and advocates, as also witnesses, are forbidden from disclosing the contents of any order, judgment or filing to the media or publishing any such material in any mode or fashion by any means, including social media, without specific leave of the court," the order reads.
"It is imperative, therefore, to protect the identities of the parties from disclosure, even accidental disclosure, in these proceedings. This is in the interest of both sides. There appear to be no established guidelines so far in such matters," the HC said.
"This order, setting out a working protocol for future orders, hearings and case file management, is the first endeavour in that direction," it said.