Outraging a woman's modesty Sexual harassment Voyeurism Stalking Eve Teasing Sexual Harassment at Workplace Rape Cyber Crime Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Sexual Harassment in Higher Educational Institutions

Offences

As noted in the Indian Penal Code (1860), amended in 2013.

Section 354: Assault or Criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty :

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty is punishable.

Punishment and Penalties :
Imprisonment which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both. The offence under this section is cognizable, non-bailable and non compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.

In common terms, such an offence could be classified as Molestation.

There must be either an assault or use of criminal force against a woman; for e.g. - the act of pulling a woman and removing her dress, coupled with a request for sex would be an outrage to the modesty of a woman.

Section 354 A: Sexual Harassment and punishment for sexual harassment :

A man committing any of the following acts :

  1. Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours; or
  3. Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
  4. Making sexually coloured remarks; or
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

Punishment and Penalties :
For offences specified in clauses 1, 2 and 3, rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine, or with both.
For offences specified in clause 4 and 5, imprisonment for a term of 1 year, or with fine, or with both.

The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and triable by any Magistrate.

Section 354 B: Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe :

Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 3 years but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.

The offence under this section is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by any Magistrate.

Section 354 C :

Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or distributes such image shall be punished on first conviction.

Punishment and Penalties :
Imprisonment for not less than 1 year, but which may extend to 3 years, and a fine. Incase of second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment for not less than 3 years, but which may extend to 7 years, and fine.

The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and triable by any Magistrate for first conviction.
Second or subsequent conviction, it is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by any Magistrate.

For the purpose of this section, 'private act' includes:

  • an act of watching carried out in a place where one would reasonably expect privacy;
  • where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear;
  • or the victim is using a lavatory;
  • or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.

If the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but does not consent to its circulation to third persons then its circulation or distribution shall be considered an offence under this section.

Section 354 D :

  1. Any man who -

    • Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
    • Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
    • watches or spies on a woman in any manner,
      that results in a fear of violence/ serious alarm/ distress in the mind of such woman, or interferes with her mental peace, commits the offence of stalking.
  2. Such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued the woman proves that -
    • he was pursuing for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and had been entrusted with this responsibility by the State; or
    • it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
    • in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

Punishment and Penalties :
For first conviction with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years, and fine.
For second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to 5 years and fine.

The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and triable by any Magistrate for first conviction.
Second or subsequent conviction, it is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by any Magistrate.

Section 509 :

Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman -

  • utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or
  • exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, of that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or
  • intrudes upon the privacy of such woman

Punishment and Penalties :
Simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and fine.


Section 294 : Obscene acts and songs :

Whoever, to the annoyance of others -

  • does any obscene act in any public place, or
  • sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place

Punishment and Penalties :
Maximum jail sentence of 3 months, or with fine, or with both.

The offence under these sections are cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.

Although Indian law doesn't use the term eve teasing, victims of it usually seek recourse through S. 294 or 509. It is a form of sexual aggression that ranges in severity from sexually suggestive remarks and brushing in public places to catcalls and groping.

The essential elements of S. 509 are :

  • Accused uttered any word, made any sound or made a gesture or exhibits any object or intrudes upon the privacy of a woman.
  • Accused intended that words uttered, sound made or gesture shown or object exhibited seen or heard by the woman.
  • It has to be directed towards a woman or group of women.
  • An insult to the modesty of the woman is an essential ingredient of this offence.
  • The intention to insult the modesty of woman must be coupled with the fact that the insult is caused.
  • The offence may occur in a private or public place.

As per the Justice Verma Committee Report, the use of words, acts or gestures that create an unwelcome threat of a sexual nature should be termed as sexual assault and be punishable for 1 year imprisonment or fine or both.

Difference between Section 354 and 509 - S. 509 specifically talks about the insult and modesty of the women whereas S. 354 deals with outraging the modesty of the women.



The key ingredients of S. 294 are :
The accused -

  • Did some act; sang, recited or uttered any ballad;
  • That such act was obscene
  • That it was done in a public place
  • It caused annoyance to others and since annoyance is subjective to one's mental faculty, it has to be derived from the facts and circumstances of the case.
  • This section is not gender specific, and the offender as well as the victim can be both male or female.



S. 292 states that showing obscene pictures, books or papers to a woman or girl results in a fine of Rs.2000 with 2 years imprisonment for first time offenders. For repeat offender, a fine of Rs.5000 with 5 years imprisonment may be imposed.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 :

The law applies to :

  1. women and women only
  2. domestic workers, daily wagers - temporary or permanent, full-time or part-time, as well as volunteers
  3. women, who may or may not be employed and belong to any age group (unpaid interns too qualify under this Act)

Workplace includes :

  1. traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship,
  2. organizations, departments, offices, branch units etc. in the public and private sector,
  3. organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complexes
  4. any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the office
  5. non-traditional workplaces, which involve telecommuting

Sexual Harassment at the Workplace includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour :

  • Physical contact or advances
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Making sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

If any act is done under the following circumstances that would also count as Sexual Harassment at the Workplace :

  • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status
  • Interferes with work or creates an intimidating/hostile/offensive work environment
  • Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health and safety

Punishment and Penalties :

  • Penalties range from 1 to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine.
  • Additionally, with sexual harassment being a crime, employers are obligated to report offences under any situation.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to INR 50,000.
  • Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.
  • The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs. 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
  • The Government can order an officer to inspect the workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organization.

Women should have the right to a safe work environment free from sexual harassment. This Act came into force to address the various violations of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to women under the Constitution of India :

  • Articles 14 - Equality before Law;
  • Article 15 - Prohibition of Discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • Article 19 (g) - Right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business;
  • Article 21 - Protection of life & personal liberty.

Do non-physical sexual gestures fall under the ambit of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace?

  • It is understood that aggressive sexual touching or forceful attempt to engage in any act of sexual nature like kissing, touching, etc will fall under this Act as an offence.
  • However, there are many other non aggressive acts of a sexual nature that fall under the definition of sexual harassment at workplace.
  • Even If there is no sexual assault, wherever there is any behaviour that creates an unduly hostile work environment for a woman, which maybe related to her looks/ dressing/ sex and involves an interest of a sexual nature; one needs to need to examine If sexual harassment at the workplace has taken place.

Section 375 :

A man is said to commit rape if he -

  • Penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman, or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  • Inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  • Manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any other part of the body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  • Applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person, under the circumstances falling under any of the following seven descriptions -
    1. Against her will
    2. Without her consent
    3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt
    4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes herself to be lawfully married to him
    5. With her consent when, at the time of giving such consent due to unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or harmful substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent
    6. With or without her consent, when she is under 18 years of age
    7. When she is unable to communicate consent

Penetration is sufficient to constitute the act as an offence of rape.

  • Exception 1 - A medical procedure or intervention shall not constitute rape.*
  • Exception 2 - Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not 'rape'.*


Section 376: Punishment for rape :

  1. Whoever, except in the cases provided for in sub-section (2), commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for not less than 7 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
  2. Whoever,
    1. being a police officer, commits rape -
      1. Within the limits of the police station to which such police officer is appointed; or
      2. in the premises of any station house; or
      3. on a woman in such police officer's custody or in the custody of a police officer subordinate to such police officer; or
    2. being a public servant, commits rape on a woman in such public servant's custody or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to such public servant; or
    3. being a member of the armed forces deployed in an area by the Central or a State Government commits rape in such area; or
    4. being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or of a women's or children's institution, commits rape on any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or institution; or
    5. being on the management or on the staff of a hospital, commits rape on a woman in that hospital; or
    6. being a relative, guardian or teacher of, or a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman, commits rape on such woman; or
    7. commits rape during communal or sectarian violence; or
    8. commits rape on a woman knowing her to be pregnant; or
    9. commits rape on a woman when she is under 16 years of age; or
    10. commits rape, on a woman incapable of giving consent; or
    11. being in a position of control or dominance over a woman, commits rape on such woman; or
    12. commits rape on a woman suffering from mental or physical disability; or
    13. while committing rape causes grievous bodily harm or maims or disfigures or endangers the life of a woman; or
    14. commits rape repeatedly on the same woman,

Shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
Such an offence is cognizable, non- bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.


Section 376 A: Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim :

Whoever, commits an offence punishable under sub-section (1) or (2) of S. 376 and in the course of such commission inflicts an injury which causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life or with death.
Such an offence is cognizable, non- bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.


Section 376 B: Sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation :

Whoever has  sexual intercourse with his own wife, who is living separately, whether under a decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 2 years but which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Such an offence is cognizable, bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.


Section 376 C: Sexual Intercourse by person in authority :

Whoever, being —

a. in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship; or

b. a public servant; or

c. Superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force, or on the management of a women's or children's institution; or

d. on the management of a hospital or being on the staff of a hospital, abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to induce or seduce any woman either in his custody or under his charge or present in the premises to have sexual intercourse with him, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape,

Shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 5 years, but which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Such an offence is cognizable, non- bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.


Section 376 D: Gang rape :

Where a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life and with fine:

  • such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim:

  • the fine imposed shall be paid to the victim.

Such an offence is cognizable, non- bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.


Section 376 E: Punishment for repeat offenders :

Whoever has been previously convicted of an offence punishable under S. 376 or 376A or 376B and is subsequently convicted of an offence punishable under any of the said sections shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with death.
Such an offence is cognizable, non- bailable and can be tried by Court of Session.

Section 72 of the Information Technology Act 2000 (amended in 2008) :

Breach of confidentiality and privacy:
Any person who has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such information or material to any other person shall be punished.

Section 72A: Punishment for Disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract :

Any person including an intermediary who, while providing services under the terms of lawful contract, has secured access to any material containing personal information about another person, with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain discloses, without the consent of the person concerned, or in breach of a lawful contract, such material to any other person shall be punished.

Punishment and Penalties :

  • In case of S. 72 – Imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine which may extend to Rs. 100000, or with both.
  • In case of S. 72A – Imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine which may extend to Rs. 500000, or with both.
  • The Indian IT Act does not directly address stalking. But the problem is dealt with more as an 'intrusion on to the privacy of an individual' than as regular cyber offences. Hence this is the most used provision for regulating cyber stalking in India.
  • In practice, these provisions can be read with S. 441 of the IPC, which deals with offences related to criminal trespass.
  • If the cyber stalking is done only to annoy the victim and has not resulted to serious offences like severe defamation, sexual crimes, identity theft or even grave crimes like terrorism, it is treated as a bailable offence.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 protects all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. 

Who can be the Victim : Anyone, whether male or female who is under the age of 18.

Who can be Punished under this Act : Anyone over the age of 18, whether male or female can be punished under this Act for sexually abusing a child. If the perpetrator is a child under the age of 18, he will be dealt with under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.

Offences covered :

Penetrative Sexual Assault :
A person is said to commit penetrative sexual assault if :

  • he penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or
  • he inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of the child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or
  • he manipulates any part of the body of the child so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of the child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or
  • he applies his mouth to the penis, vagina, anus, urethra of the child or makes the child to do so to such person or any other person.

Whoever, commits Penetrative Sexual Assault upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

Where a person is prosecuted for committing/ abetting/ attempting to commit this offence, the Court shall presume, that such person has committed/ abetted/ attempted to commit the offence, unless the contrary is proved. i.e Burden of proof to establish innocence is on the accused.

Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault

Explanation of what defines the assault as 'aggravated' is covered below.

Whoever, commits Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault upon a child shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment (rigorous imprisonment means having to do hard labour) for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

Where a person is prosecuted for committing/ abetting/ attempting to commit this offence, the Court shall presume, that such person has committed/ abetted/ attempted to commit the offence, unless the contrary is proved. i.e Burden of proof to establish innocence is on the accused.

Sexual Assault
Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault.

Whoever, commits Sexual Assault upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 3 years but which may extend to 5 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Where a person is prosecuted for committing/ abetting/ attempting to commit this offence, the Court shall presume, that such person has committed/ abetted/ attempted to commit the offence, unless the contrary is proved. i.e Burden of proof to establish innocence is on the accused.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Explanation of what defines the assault as 'aggravated' is covered below.

Whoever, commits Aggravated Sexual Assault upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 5 years but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Where a person is prosecuted for committing/ abetting/ attempting to commit this offence, the Court shall presume, that such person has committed/ abetted/ attempted to commit the offence, unless the contrary is proved. i.e Burden of proof to establish innocence is on the accused.

Sexual Harassment
A person is said to commit sexual harassment when such a person with sexual intent :

  • utters any word or makes any sound, or makes any gesture or exhibits any object or part of body with the intention that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object or part of body shall be seen by the child; or
  • makes a child exhibit his body or any part of his body so as it is seen by such person or any other person; or
  • shows any object to a child in any form or media for pornographic purposes; or
  • repeatedly or constantly follows or watches or contacts a child either directly or through electronic, digital or any other means; or
  • threatens to use, in any form of media, a real or fabricated depiction through electronic, film or digital or any other mode, of any part of the body of the child or the involvement of the child in a sexual act; or
  • entices a child for pornographic purposes or gives gratification therefor.

Whoever, commits Sexual Harassment upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Use of child for pornographic purposes
Whoever, uses a child in any form of media (including programme or advertisement telecast by television channels or internet or any other electronic form or printed form, whether or not such programme or advertisement is intended for personal use or for distribution), for the purposes of sexual gratification, which includes :

  • representation of the sexual organs of a child;
  • usage of a child engaged in real or simulated sexual acts (with or without penetration);
  • the indecent or obscene representation of a child.

Whoever, uses a child or children for pornographic purposes shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to 5 years and shall also be liable to fine and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 7 years and also be liable to fine.
If the person using the child for pornographic purposes commits penetrative sexual assault, by directly participating in pornographic acts, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
If the person using the child for pornographic purposes commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault, by directly participating in pornographic acts, he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
If the person using the child for pornographic purposes commits sexual assault, by directly
participating in pornographic acts, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 6 years but which may extend to 8 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
If the person using the child for pornographic purposes commits aggravated sexual assault, by directly participating in pornographic acts, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 8 years but which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
If the person stores any pornographic material involving a child, in any form, for commercial purposes, he shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both.

Offence is “aggravated” when :

  1. Committed by a police officer or member of the armed forces/ security forces: within the limits of a police station or area to which the person is deployed; in the course of his duty and where he is known or identified as an officer or member of the security or armed forces;
  2. Committed by a public servant or person belonging to any institution providing services to the child;
  3. Committed by a person on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home, protection home, observation home, or other place of custody or care and protection;
  4. Committed by a person on the management or staff of a hospital, whether Government or Private or of an educational/ religious institution;
  5. Committed by a group with common intent (i.e if a child is subjected to sexual assault by one or more persons of a group with common intention, each of such persons shall be punishable);
  6. There is use of deadly weapons, fire, heated or corrosive substance;
  7. Grievous hurt or injury is caused to the sexual organs of the child; or the child becomes mentally ill/ inflicted with HIV or infections or in the case of a female child, makes her pregnant;
  8. The child taken advantage of is mentally or physically disabled;
  9. The child is subjected to sexual assault more than once or repeatedly;
  10. The child is below 12 years of age;
  11. The abuser is a relative of the child through blood or adoption or marriage or guardianship or in foster care or has a domestic relationship with a parent of the child or is living in the same or shared household with the child;
  12. Committed by a person who is in a position of trust or authority of a child in an institution or home of the child or anywhere else;
  13. The abuser knows the child is pregnant;
  14. The abuser attempts to murder the child;
  15. The child is subjected to sexual assault during the course of communal or sectarian violence;
  16. The abuser is a repeat offender;
  17. The abuser makes the child strip or parade naked in public.

No person conducting a medical examination/ medical treatment of a child, with the consent of the parents/ guardian, shall be charged under any of the offences under this Act.

Abetment of offence under POCSO Act :

  • A person abets an offence if :
  • He instigates any person to do that offence; or
  • Engages with one or more other person in any conspiracy for the doing of that offence, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that offence; or
  • Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that offence.

Whoever, commits Abetment will receive the same punishment and fine as one who has committed the actual crime.

Alternate punishment : Where an Act or omission is recognised as an offence under this Act and is also recognised as an offence under Section 166A, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 370, 370A, 375, 376, 376A, 376C, 376D, 376E or section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, then the offender found guilty of such offence shall be liable to punishment under this Act or under the Indian Penal Code, whichever punishment is greater in degree.

This Act was enacted to address the gap in the Indian Penal Code which did not specifically provide for the protection of children, particularly boys, from sexual offences.

The law applies to :

  1. All  Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in India.
  2. Employees and students of HEIs.
  3. This Act is Gender Neutral i.e this Act is against all gender based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes recognising that primarily women employees and students and some male students and students of the third gender are vulnerable to many forms of sexual harassment and humiliation and exploitation.

When can one complain under this Act?
If a student or an employee is subjected to sexual harassment within the jurisdiction of the HEI then he/ she can file a complaint under this Act.

What places come under the jurisdiction as Higher Educational Institutions?

  1. Any department, organisation, establishment, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the HEIs. 

  2. Any sports institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, whether residential or not, used for training, sports or other activities in HEIs.
  3. Any place visited by the employee or student arising out of or during the course of employment or study including authorized transportation for work/ study related journeys undertaken through the HEI.

Who can complain under this Act?

  1. Employees or students of all genders (i.e. male/ female/ third) subject to sexual harassment in HEIs can be identified as a victim under this Act.
  2. Employee means a trainee, apprentice, interns, volunteers, teacher assistants, research assistants, whether employed or not, including those involved in field studies, projects, short-visits and camp.
  3. Student means a person duly admitted and pursuing a programme of study either through regular mode/ distance mode, including short-term training programmes in a HEI;
this includes students who are in the process of taking admission into the HEI or students who are taking part in activities conducted within the HEI.

Who can the complaint be filed against under this Act?

  1. The offender may be an employee or a student of the HEI.
  2. The complaint can also be filed against a third party for sexual harassment.
    “Third Party Harassment” refers to a situation where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, who is not an employee or a student of the HEI, but a visitor to the HEI in some other capacity or for some other purpose or reason.

What is recognised as Sexual Harassment in Higher Educational Institutions under this Act :**
Sexual Harassment under this Act means anyone or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour : 

  • Physical contact or advances
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Making sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature
  • Occurrence of or persistent unwanted conduct with sexual undertones which demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile and intimidating environment
  • Inducing submission by actual or threatened adverse consequences.

If any act is done under the following circumstances that would also count as Sexual Harassment at the Higher Educational Institution :

  • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat about the present or future employment status
  • Creates an intimidating/ hostile/ offensive learning environment
  • Humiliating treatment likely to affect health, safety, dignity, of physical integrity of the person concerned
     
    Punishment and Compensation :
    1. If the offender is an employee, the offender found guilty of sexual harassment shall be punished in accordance with the service rules of the HEI.
    2. If the offender is a student, depending upon the severity of the offence, the HEI may :
  • withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library, auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarships, allowances, and identity card;
  • suspend or restrict entry into the campus for a specific period;
  • expel and strike off name from the rolls of the institution, including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants;
  • award reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and, or, performance of community services. 
    1. The aggrieved person is entitled to the payment of compensation. The HEI shall issue direction for payment of the compensation recommended by the ICC and accepted by the Executive Authority, which shall be recovered from the offender.
      The compensation payable shall be determined on the basis of :
  • mental trauma, pain, suffering and distress caused to the aggrieved person;
  • the loss of career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment;
  • the medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical, psychiatric treatment;
  • the income and status of the alleged perpetrator and victim; and
  • the feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments. 

Action against frivolous complaint :
To ensure that the Act to protect employees and students from sexual harassment does not get misused, provisions against false or malicious complaints have to be made and publicised within all HEIs.
If the ICC concludes that the allegations made were false, malicious or the complaint was made knowing it to be untrue, or forged or misleading information has been provided during the inquiry, the complainant shall be liable to be punished.

  • If complainant is an employee, the complainant will be punished in accordance with the service rules of the HEI
  • If the complainant is a student, depending upon the severity of the offence, the HEI may :
    1. withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library, auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarships, allowances, and identity card;
    2. suspend or restrict entry into the campus for a specific period;
    3. expel and strike off name from the rolls of the institution, including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants;
    4. award reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and, or, performance of community services. 
      If witnesses called upon, are found to have given false evidence or produced forged documents, they too shall be subject to the punishments mentioned above.
      Please note - The mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof need not attract action against the complainant under this section.