POSH Act Applicable to Girl Students of a School: Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court ruled on Monday that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (2013 Act) applies to schoolgirls.

In the instant case, the Court was adjudicating upon an appeal against an order dated October 5, 2021, issued by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata Bench, wherein the Tribunal had permitted the respondent authorities to proceed with the summary trial about the instant case, the Court was adjudicating upon an appeal against an order dated October 5, 2021, issued by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata Bench, wherein the Tribunal had permitted the respondent authorities to proceed with the summary trial about the respondent

The petitioner, a teacher by profession, was appointed as a Trained Graduate Teacher by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti on November 17, 1997.

Nepali. The principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Ravangla, South Sikkim, submitted a formal complaint with the Officer-in-Charge of Ravangla Police Station on February 15, 2020, indicating that he had received multiple complaints from pupils alleging that the petitioner had engaged in sexual harassment. It was also stated in the police station complaint that about 67 students had complained of sexual harassment against the petitioner.

The Ravangla Police Station filed a case against the petitioner under Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 POCSO Act, based on the complaint.

On February 15, 2020, the Investigating Officer arrested the petitioner, however, he was later released on bail by the relevant Court.

The petitioner was then informed by the school authorities that he had been suspended under an order dated February 15, 2020, and that his suspension had been prolonged until February 10, 2021.

The petitioner was also informed, by order dated June 16, 2020, that the school authorities had formed a committee to conduct a summary trial to investigate the allegations leveled against him, bypassing the regular disciplinary proceedings following the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules, 1965.

The Court rejected the school’s argument that the 2013 Act does not apply to the school’s female students who have been wronged. The Court opined that the Act’s provisions will apply to the school’s students, citing Section 2 (a) of the 2013 Act, which defines an “aggrieved woman.”

The Court also remarked that because Jawahar Nabadaya Vidyalaya, Ravangla, South Sikkim is entirely funded by the Central Government, the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules, 1965 will apply to its teachers.

The suspension order as well as the investigation proceedings were thrown out by the court. The school officials were ordered to allow the petitioner to begin his tasks within one month and to pay him all back salaries within two months of his start date.

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