Bombay High Court Issues Guidelines Prohibiting Public Disclosure Of Identities In Sexual Harassment Cases
The Bombay High Court issued guidelines prohibiting public disclosure in order to protect the identities of the parties in the proceedings of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
A Single Judge Court of Justice G.S. Patel in the High Court of Bombay dealt with the present matter involving issues under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013, (POSH Rules).
The Court held that it was imperative to protect the identities of the parties from disclosure, even accidental disclosure, in such proceedings but it noted that there were no established guidelines so far in such matters. Therefore, the Court decided to create certain guidelines as a minimum requirement for setting out a working protocol for future orders, hearings and case file management.
These guidelines were issued under different subgroups, which are as follows:
2) Filing Protocols
5) Directions To Certified Copy Department
6) Public Access
8) Media Disclosure Forbidden
9) Recording Prohibited
10) Industrial/Labour Court Proceedings
The Court's primary endeavour was to anonymize the identities of the parties. One of the guidelines, was that the names of the parties would not be mentioned in the order sheets and the orders would be read "A v B", "P vs D" etc.
It also directed that the entire record was to be kept sealed and was not to be given to any person without an order of the Court.
It further held that such hearings must be by physical attendance which would only be in Chambers or in-camera and that there would be no online or hybrid facility for hearings.
The Court issued various guidelines restricting the use of names of parties in such matters by issuing prohibition on publishing the names, addresses or other details to any person, including forbiddance on the media.
The Court disposed of this matter by observing that the Courts would strictly adopt and follow these guidelines and any future guidelines and thus, a copy of this order was directed to be sent to the president of that court for his immediate attention and action.