IPC 354A. Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment
(1) A man committing any of the following acts-
(i) Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
(ii) A demand or request for sexual favours; or
(iii) Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
(iv) Making sexually covered remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
(2) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub section (1) shall be punished woth rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend upto three years, or with fine, or with both.
(3) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which mar extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Sexual Harassment defined – This term Sexual Harassment includes physical contact, unwelcome sexual overtures, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography or sexually coloured remarks. This is mainly bullying or coercion the genesis of which lies in gender and thus minor or mild transgressions in the social system is added as a separate crime. The thought behind it may be that if minor transgressions are not remedied it can lead to sexual abuse or assault. One may say that simple teasing, offhand comments etc. is also made a crime, and that is true however, generally it is about frequent or severe form that is punished.
Sexual Harassment at Workplace is also a cause of concern and there is a separate law that covers that aspect of Sexual Harassment as it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, where a victim must have a recourse in civil law so as not to affect her employment opportunities.
Punishments – Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
This crime of Sexual harassment is kept as Cognizable, which means that any Police Officer who has been approached with a complaint of Sexual Harassment has to register the crime. Though it is bailable in nature, i.e. accused can not be arrested by the concerned Police Officer.
The definition [of Sexual Harassment] is very wide but it is not gender neutral. Use of either assault or criminal force is not a necessary element of it. Pappu alias Ramnath alias Swarup Vs State of Chattisgarh [2015 CrLJ 351]
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