Vishaka&Ors. V/S State of Rajasthan (Air 1997 Sc 3011) – Sexual Harassment Landmark Case

Author- Pallav vats, Geeta Institute of Law, Panipat.

Case comment

Vishaka&Ors. V/S State of Rajasthan (Air 1997 Sc 3011)Sexual Harassment Landmark Case

Bench Of Judges: CJI, Sujata V. Manohar, B. N. Kirpal

Vishaka & ors. v/s state of Rajasthan[1]is a case which deals with the evil of Sexual Harassment of women at her workplace. It is a landmark judgment case in the history of sexual harassment which as being decided by the Supreme Court. Sexual Harassment means uninvited/unwelcome sexual favor or sexual gestures from one gender towards the other gender. It makes the person feel humiliated, offended and insulted to whom it is been done. In many of the cases, it has been observed that homosexual labor harasses an employee belonging to the same sex to which he belongs.

Sexual harassment is also termed as “Eve Teasing” in India, and it can be determined from the following acts like- passing of indicative or typical comments or jokes, uninvited touching, making appeals for sex, sexually blunt pictures or text messages or emails, discredit a person because of sex. Accordingly, Sexual Harassment violates the fundamental right of the women of gender equality which is codified under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and also the fundamental right to life and to live a dignified life is violated/infringed under Article 21 of the constitution of India. Even though there has been no provision for sexual harassment at the workplace under the Indian Constitution.

Justice ArjitPasayat beholder from his beautiful thought that- “ while a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, on the other hand, the rapist defiles the soul of a helpless female”.

Sexual harassment is one of the social evil faced by the fragile portion of society. Now at this point of time, the high society people or the people who commit sexual harassment should become aware of the vital needs or rights of women or either when this tranquil volcano of anger will erupt will cause immense danger and shattering which would have equal consequences which is cause from the burst or eruption of an inactive volcano.


The facts of this case are given below:-

# Bhanwari Devi who was a social activist/worker in one of the Rajasthan’s villages.

# She worked under a social development program at a rural level which was about to stop child marriage in a village and this social program was administered/ initiated by the Rajasthan’s state government.

# Bhanwari Devi en-devoured to stop the marriage of the Ramkaran Gujjars (thakurs) daughter, who was merely less than one year old i.e. she was an infant only.

# As a part of her duty, Bhanwari Devi tried to terminate the marriage of her infant daughter.

# Even of her vain-full efforts to stop the marriage, it happened, but Bhanwaridevi was not excused or pardoned for her’s this fault.

# She was exposed to or put forward to social punishment or boycott.

# September 1992, she was been gang-raped by Ramkaran Gujjar and his five friends in front of her husband.

# The male doctor at normal primary health center declined to survey her and the doctor at Jaipur only made confirmation of her age without any recommendation of her being raped in her medical report.

# At police station to she was been continually taunted by the women countable for the whole of midnight.

# In past midnight she was been asked by the policeman to leave her lehnga as the evidence of that incident and go back to her village.

# After that, she was only left with the bloodstained dhoti of her husband to wrap her body, as a result of which they had to spend there whole night in that police station.

# The Trail Court made the discharge of the accused people for not being guilty.

# The High Court in his judgment propounded that –“ it was a case of gang rape which was conducted out of the revengeful situation.

# All these statements and judgment, aroused women and NGO’S to file a petition (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India.

Issue Raised In This Case

# Whether, the enactment of guidelines mandatory for the repudment of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.


The judgment of Vishakha’s case was conveyed by Chief Justice J.S Verma as a representative of Justice Sujata Manihar and Justice B.N Kripal on account of the writ petition which was file by Vishakha the victim of this case. The court observed that the fundamental rights under Article 14[2], Article19[3](1)(g) and Article 21[4]of Constitution of India that, every profession, trade or occupation should provide a safe working environment to the employees. It hampered the right to life and the right to live a dignified life. The basic requirement was that there should be the availability of a safe working environment at the workplace.

The Supreme Court held that women have fundamental right towards the freedom of sexual harassment at the workplace. It also put forward various important guidelines for the employees to follow them and avoid sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The court also suggested having proper techniques for the implementation of cases where there is sexual harassment at the workplace. The main aim/objective of the Supreme Court was to ensure gender equality among people and also to ensure that there should be no discrimination towards women at there workplace.

After this case, the Supreme Court made the term Sexual harassment well defined, accordingly any physical touch or conduct, showing of pornography, any unpleasant taunt or misbehavior, or any sexual desire towards women, sexual favor will come under the ambit of sexual harassment.

Critical Analysis

In the case of Vishakha& others v/s the state of Rajasthan[5], the Supreme Court specifically underlined the definition of Sexual Harassment, which conveys any unwanted or uninvited physical touch or conduct or showing of pornography or any definable sexual comments or texts will come under the ambit of Sexual Harassment. According to me, any such conduct done directly hampers the right of women to life and it also affects there dignity to live. It also hinders the mental and physical health of women. Sexual harassment shall be avoided and the equality between the genders shall be established at the workplace.

The Supreme Court held out guidelines that, the person-in-charge of the particular institution, organization or office whether be it private or public, will be responsible for taking effective steps to prevent sexual harassment. Penalties shall be charged from the accused people for conducting sexual harassment. It had become a very crucial topic to act upon for the prevention of sexual harassment women at the workplace. In the case of private companies, the strict rules regarding the punishment of sexual harassment shall be included. In case the sexual harassment is conducted by the outsiders, the person-in-charge of that institution must take strict action for the conduct of such crime.


Sexual Harassment of women at the workplace happens at a very frequent rate in India. If any strict action will not be taken towards this crime, it will directly hamper the working ration of the women in India and on the other hand it will hamper the economic situation of India. The government should make strict laws regarding the aversion of sexual harassment at the workplace, because it should realize that, women also constitute the working population of our country. It should be abolished to prevent the dignity and the respect of women. Various new approaches and skills shall be implemented by the institutions, organizations to prevent their women employees from such social evil. The main objective behind the stabilization of this right is to promote gender equality at the workplace without any kind of discrimination and discernment among the workers of an organization.

[1]AIR 1997 SC 3011

[2]Article 14, Constitution Of India, (Right To Equality)

[3]Article 19 (1)(G) Constitution Of India, (Right To Practice Ones Profession)

[4] Article 21, Constitution of India, (Right to life)

[5] AIR 1997 SC 3011 at 3014