MEDHA KOTWAL LELE & ORS. v. Union of India and Others. [2012] INSC 643

Suit aimed at the enforcement of previous Supreme Court decision. Sexual harassment at the work place. Vishaka guidelines.

Date of the Ruling: 
Aug 13 1997
Supreme Court of India
Type of Forum: 

The case was presented by the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) to the Constitutional Court in light of the non-enforcement of a previous decision that established guidelines against sexual harassment at the work place in India: Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (6SCC 241, 1997). In its 2012 decision, the Supreme Court of India repeats the Vishaka guidelines issued by the Court in 1997, stressing additional measures that should be adopted for their enforcement: States and Union Territories must amend their respective Civil Services Conduct Rules and Industrial Employment Rules to recognize that reports issued by Complaints Committees are considered to be findings in for disciplinary inquiries against “delinquent employees”; States and Union Territories must constitute an “adequate number” of Complaints’ Committees to ensure that they function at taluka level, district level and state level; and State functionaries and private and public sector institutions shall create mechanisms to ensure the full implementation of the Vishaka guidelines.

Keywords: MEDHA KOTWAL LELE & ORS. v. Union of India and Others. [2012] INSC 643, Enforceability, ESCR, Labor, Women, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

The Court established a timeframe of two months for the enforcement of its 2012 decision. It also clarified that non-compliance or non-adherence to the Vishaka guidelines and orders of the Supreme Court following Vishaka would allow aggrieved persons to approach the respective High Courts in their particular States.

Groups involved in the case: 
Significance of the Case: 

The Court in Medha not only reiterates the precedent Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (6SCC 241, 1997). It actually recognizes the possibility of litigation seeking implementation of judicial decisions. In the words of Colin Gonsalves, founder of HRLN: “Though the guidelines were set many years ago, they remained unimplemented. This decision attempts to force implementation and it resurrects the almost forgotten guidelines” (Jan. 16, 2013).

The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill was enacted just one month before the decision of the Medha case.