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Vishaka &Ors. V. State of Rajasthan &Ors.

October 26, 2023by canonsphere0

This case analysis is written by Sanriddhi Sinha, a 4th year student from Brainware University.

Citation (1997) 6 scc 241 

Date of Judgement 13th August, 1997

Bench  Chief Justice J.S. Verma, Justice Sujata V. Manohar and Justice B.N. Kirpal. 


Bhanwari Devi was a social worker who was employed under a project called as the Women’s Development Project of Rajasthan government. Being a social worker she was dedicated to curb child marriage and that time she discovered that Ram Karan Gurjar’s family was arranging a child marriage for their daughter knowing that its illegal. Devi made several attempts to help them understand the illegality of conducting such a marriage. Amid the widespread protests, Ram Karan Gurjar’s family proceeded with the marriage. On 5th of May, 1992, both the sub-divisional officer and the Deputy Superintendent of Police visited Ram Karan Gurjar’s house to intervene and stop the marriage. However, the marriage had taken place on the following day.

On the 22nd of September 1992, Ram Karan Gurjar, with his five accomplices a brutal gang-rape of Bhanwari Devi in front of her husband to take revenge from her. Bhanwari Devi encountered numerous challenges while attempting to file her case with the police, who were reluctant to assist her. However,  Devi was somehow able to file her case against the accused. During this process, Devi was asked to bring her lehenga and her husband’s blood-stained dhoti as an evidence by the female police attendants. 

the trial court acquitted the accused because of the lack of evidence. However, criticizing the trial court’s decision, some women organizationcame up together to help the Bhanwari Devi to get justice which resulted in filling of PIL. This PIL was filed in the SC by by this women’s right group under the name ‘Vishakha’. The SC heard the case and came up with guidelines to stop the sexual harassment at the workplace. 

Issues Involved

  1. Whether the sexual harassment at workplace violates the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution?
  2. Whether any guidelines required to prevent the Sexual harassment at the workplace?


Contention of the Petitioner-

The Petitioner had argued that the sexual harassment of women at the Workplace violated many Fundamental rights under Article14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India.

They also pointed out the loopholes in the legislation itself regarding the safety of the women who are working at the workplace. The petitioner contented that there’s no such provision that safeguards the women from sexual harassment at the workplace. 

The Petitioner also requested the honorable court to make the guidelines for safeguarding the women from heinous crimes. 

Contention of the Respondent-

The learned Solicitor General supporting the Petitioner in this case urged the honourable court to come up with an effective method to curb sexual harassment and also asked the court to formulate certain guidelines in respect of the sexual harassment. 


The honorable SC expanded the meaning of sexual harassment, by stating that sexual harassment includes any physical conduct or physical touch even an unpleasant touch or any misbehavior also comes under the meaning of sexual harassment. Besides that, asking any sexual favors is also a sexual harassment stated by the court.

The court held that sexual harassment is a gross violation of fundamental rights guaranteed to the women under  Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India.

SC also stated that every workplace should circulate and inform and aware all the members about the sexual harassment. The court also stated that against every harassment act an appropriate disciplinary action will be taken and criminal proceedings will be initiated.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court came up with certain guidelines in order to prevent sexual harassment at the Workplace. These guidelines were named as Vishaka Guidelines which will be treated as law under Article 141 of the Constitution.

“In view of the above, and the absence of enacted law to provide fro the effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality and guarantee against sexual harassment and abuse, more particularly against sexual harassment at work places, we lay down the guidelines and norms specified hereinafter for due observance at all work places or other institutions, until a legislation is enacted for the purpose.”

Vishaka Guidelines:
  1. Preventive Measures and Good Working Conditions: It is the responsibility of the employees to proactively establish preventive measures where they are working. This includes implementing the explicit policy that unequivocally forbid any kind harassments. Additionally, it will be the duty of the employers to ensure that working conditions are conducive to the well-being of employees. 
  1. Strict Actions for Workplace Rule Breaches: When employees violate workplace rules or engage in misconduct, it is incumbent upon employers to respond with appropriate disciplinary actions. This may involve a structured process that includes warnings, written reprimands, suspensions, or termination of job, depending on the company’s established policies.
  1. Reporting Offenses Under the Indian Penal Code: If the misconduct of employees falls under the jurisdiction of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, employers are legally obligated to report these offenses to the relevant law enforcement authorities. This ensures that any criminal actions are dealt with through the appropriate legal channels.
  1. Establishment of a Redressal Committee: To effectively address harassment issues within the organization, every workplace should establish a dedicated redressal committee. This committee should operate independently, irrespective of whether the misconduct qualifies as a legal offense. It is essential that this committee comprises a majority of female members and is led by a female leader. The  counseling services should be provided by the committee to support victims and those facing harassment. Additionally, to maintain transparency and accountability, the committee needs to submit an annual report on its progress to the government.
  1. Awareness and Education Initiatives: The proactive measures should be undertaken by the employees to raise awareness about harassment-related issues throughout the organization. This awareness can be spread by organizing workshops, training sessions, and campaigns. 


The Vishakha case is a landmark case of the SC and the guidelines propounded in this case is one of the beautiful legislation of the court. This case plays such importance in the society because prior to this case no such provision or guidelines we had against the workplace sexual harassment. This case marked the first legislative step taken to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, making it a milestone. This case not only criminalized the sexual harassment but also widen up the meaning of the word sexual harassment.

Therefore, this judgment is an example of judicial activism that aligns with principles of rational approach by the judiciary.

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