Swati Jindal Garg & Associates

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ’s)
On POSH Act / Compliance Law

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1. How can I identify sexual harassment in the workplace?

‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibiton and Redressal) Act, 2013 (‘POSH act’), defines sexual harassment. According to section 2(n),

“Sexual Harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication) namely:—

(i) physical contact and advances; or
(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours; or
(iii) making sexually coloured remarks; or
(iv) showing pornography; or
(v) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;

Sexually coloured remarks and actions may be considered sexual harassment. Broadly, some examples include:

Verbal behavior which is sexual in nature and unwelcome, e.g., epithets, jokes, comments or slurs, repeated requests for dates which are unwelcome.

Nonverbal behavior which is sexual in nature and unwelcome, e.g., staring, leering, lewd gestures.

Physical conduct which is sexual in nature and unwelcome, e.g., assaults, sexual advances such as touching, patting, or pinching, impeding or blocking, movement or any physical interference with normal work or movement;

Visuals which are sexual in nature and unwelcome, e.g., posters or signs, letters, poems, graffiti, faxes, cartoons or drawings, pictures, calendars, electronic mail and computer programs.

Must Sexual Harassment only be physical in nature?

No, physical contact is not necessary for an action to account for sexual harassment.

In the case of Apparel Export Promotion v. A.K. Chopra, the Supreme Court enlarged the definition of sexual harassment by ruling that physical contact was not necessary for an act to amount to sexual harassment

Therefore, the Supreme Court explained that:-

‘Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination projected through unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct with sexual overtones, whether directly or by implication, particularly when submission to or rejection of such conduct by the female employee was capable of being used for affecting the employment of the female employee and unreasonably interfering with her work performance and had the effect of creating an intimidating or hostile work environment for her.’

Does the law protect me from Sexual Harassment at the workplace?

Yes, the law protects women from sexual harassment in the workplace. This is encapculated within‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibiton and Redressal) Act, 2013, also known as the ‘POSH Act’.

India’s first legislation specifically addressing the issue of workplace sexual harassment; the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) was enacted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, India in 2013.

The year 2013 also witnessed the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (“Criminal Law Amendment Act”) which has criminalized offences such as sexual harassment, stalking and voyeurism.

The Act provides a civil remedy to women. Consequently, any woman who wishes to report instances of sexual harassment at the workplacehas the right to take recourse of both civil and criminal proceedings.

It is important for you to know that:

  • Workplace sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination which violates the following fundamental rights of a woman:
  • Articles 14 and 15: Right to Equality
  • Article 21: Right to life – the right to live with dignity
  • Article 19(1)(g): Right to practice any profession/trade/occupation/business, i.e., a right to a safe environment free from harassment.
Where can I file a sexual harassment complaint?

An aggrieved woman can file a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the organisation. In case of an organisation with less than 10 members, a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) must be established, to which the woman can submit her complaint.

One may also file their complaint under the SH-e Box initiative of the Ministry of Women & Child Development. This Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box) is an effort of GoI to provide a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organised or unorganised, private or public sector, to facilitate the registration of complaint related to sexual harassment. The initiative is driven by a strong support to women so as to provide them with adequate resources.

What should my complaint contain?

According to the POSH act, any aggrieved woman may make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the Internal Committee if so constituted, or the Local Committee, in case it is not so constituted, within a period of three months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident.


A written complaint must contain:-

  • Description of each incident(s)
  • Name of the Respondent/Offender
  • Dates of each incident(s)
  • Timings
  • Locations
  • Working relationship between the Parties


Questions pertaining to certain situations-

Who can file a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace ?

According to the POSH Act, any woman who is working in or visiting a workplace for the purpose of employment can file a complaint. She can be working as a permanent, temporary or adhoc employee or on daily-wages, voluntary or contract basis. A visitor, probationer, trainee, apprentice and intern are also entitled to file a complaint.

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