Vishaka and others vs state of Rajasthan (AIR1997Sc311)


“Vishaka and others vs state of Rajasthan (AIR1997Sc311)

(Sexual Harassment Landmark case)

Judges Bench : CJI  J.S.Verma, Justice Sujata ,Justice B.N. Kripal

To the point 

In 1997 Hon’ble supreme court held that in case vishakha and ors V  state of Rajasthan which group is led by Naina kapur and sakshi who file Public Interest Litigation against the central government and state of Rajasthan . Aim of this case to enforce the fundamental right of working women under Article 14, 19and 21 of constitution of India .After the brutal gang rape  with Banwari devi who is social worker of lower caste stop to doing child marriage .

In this case landmark judgment  of Supreme court in history for the sexual harassment. In the case court emphasized and significant the international convention and norm for the interpretation of gender equality. Provide the dignity in work for women under article 14 ,19 and 21 of Indian constitution. In this case Supreme court first time define sexual harassment and its essential and also provide the guideline for the sexual harassment at workplace. There is some decision and regulation of vishkaha case present in Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 [Sexual Harassment Act].

Use Legal Jargon

This landmark case, adjudicated by the Supreme Court of India, promulgated the “Vishaka Guidelines,” which delineated the duties of employers to create a safe working environment, thus embedding principles of natural justice and due process within the framework of workplace harassment policies.

The proof 

           Vishaka and others vs state of Rajasthan  case provide the dignity to working women under the  Article 14,15, 19(1)(g) and 21 . this case identify  the women sexual harassment at workplace and violation of her fundamental right . It gave the legal frame of sexual harassment and provided tool to fight against it. This judgment ensures the gender equality at workplace and free from sexual harassment and provide the free and fresh environment to do work for women. 


Vishaka and Others vs. State of Rajasthan is a landmark case in Indian jurisprudence that addressed the absence of legal provisions for the protection of women against sexual harassment at the workplace. The Supreme Court, through this case, issued guidelines to fill this legal vacuum, mandating preventive measures and redressal mechanisms to combat sexual harassment, thereby ensuring a safe working environment for women.

Fact of the case 

Banwari devi who was a social worker in one  village of the Rajasthan. She work under the Women development project  of the Rajasthan’s village which initiated by the government of Rajasthan in 1985 and its theme  to stop the child marriage . In the meantime , Ramkaran gujjar made arrangement of marriage of his infant child who was less than one  year. As per his duty Banwari devi tried to terminated the  marriage of infant child but her all attempt become ineffectual. And after that family decided to completed  the marriage . She was subjected to boycotted .

In  September 1992 , Ramkaran gujjar and his five friend raped Banwari Devi very brutely in front of her husband . the only Doctor of primary health center of village refuses to examine her and Doctor of jaipur only ensure his age on the report without any remark about the rape in her medical report.

At the whole night she was constantly taunted by the one women constable .

Rather of that she asked to policeman she leaved her lehnga at the incident place as a form of evidence.

After that Trial Court discharged all the accused for not being guilty due to lack of evidence.

After the Appeal in Highcourt , it held that it is a Gang rape with Revengeful intention.

After these judgment and statement of court NGOs and women welfare organization came together and raised the voice for justice. They File Public interest Litigation (PIL) In Supreme Court.

The PIL filed by which Women’s right  group is called Vishaka . The writ petition file for the enforcement of Fundamental right of working women under article 14,15,19 and 21 of Constitution of India . Also raise to provide the protection to women form the sexual harassment at workplace.


  1. Whether  sexual harassment at work place infringe the fundamental right ?
  2. Whether sexual harassment  at work place violate the right of  gender inequality ?
  3. Whether employer is liable for the sexual harassment is done to\by to its employee ?


The judgement of vishaka’s case delivered by Chief justice J.S Verma as a representative pf justice Sujata mahira and justice B.N. Kripal on the behalf of writ petition filed by the Vishka the victim of the case.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the Fundamental right under article 14(2), 19(3)(1)(g) and 21(4) of Constitution of India should be provided the safe working environment to the employees of every profession, trade or occupation. It also focused on the issue regarding the right to life, right to dignity of work at workplace gender equality and maintained  that gender equality including providing protection from sexual harassment at workplace .

When there is no any specific legislation the international convention and his norms will be considered.

In this case supreme court observed that the obligation of court under article 32 of Indian constitution for enforcement of fundamental right in absence of legislation must view along with the role of judiciary predict in Beijing statement of Principle of the Independence of judiciary in LAWASLA region.

In this case supreme Court first time given the definition of sexual harassment and also given some important guideline which is also called vishaka’s guideline for the employees which must be followed in all working place for avoiding the sexual harassment at work place.

Guidelines of Vishaka case

1.The court define sexual harassment as :-

Any offensive sexually determined behaviour which is direct or indirect

  1. Physical contact and advances;
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours;
  3. Sexually colored remarks;
  4. Showing pornography;
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

2. Employer’s responsibility

This is employers responsibility to create a safe and harassment free work environment for all the employees . this also include to take a dynamic step to restrain the sexual harassment at work place  providing redressal mechanism and organize continuously awareness programs. 

3.Grievance complaint mechanism 

It is a formal system or process with in an organization that allow to employees to raise and resolve the concern complaint and grievance. The mechanism provide impartial investigation of complaints and appropriate action against the accused . there must be irrespective of fact  whether is constitute  an offense must be fall under the Indian penal code 1860 or any other law.

        4.  complaint committee 

In the complaint committee must be contain  more than fifty percent women member and also headed by woman. In case od any pressure from upper authority in workplace t\hen they must be involved any NGO or any organization as a third party for the collaboration. The report annually send to the government which issue raised in the committee.

  1. Awareness programs 

Employees must be conduct awareness programs and training for the employers on workplace to prohibit the sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment at work place ( prevention, prohibition and redressal )Act ,2013

  • After the seventeen year of judgement of vishaka guideline parliament passed an Act Sexual harassment at work place( prevention , Prohibition and redressal ) Act, 2013
  • This act has wider scope then guideline but basic framework of the Act borrowed from the Vishaka case .
  • The “ aggrieved women “ cover wide range of women with rrespective of age and employment status.“Workplace “included private and public sector also included organized and unorganized sector.
  • Provide specific time limit for redressal of complaint and prescribe fine upto 50000rs according to the provision given under the Act.
  • The most important feature of this Act to establish Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) in establishment with 10 or more employees at workplace. This committee constitute one female presiding officer who is senior female employer , one external member to prohibit undue influence from employer and two more member.
  • A local complaint committee (LCC) establish where less than 10 employees or behalf of himself. This committee specially work for the unorganized sector an domestic worker. LCC is mandate under the section 6 of the Act. It has the same power as the civil court which is prescribed under the code of civil procedure .But strict procedural law  shall not be followed during the redressal complaint .
  • The committee also take a help with conciliation at the request of woman.
  • If after the enquiry of committee it found the sexual harassment at prima facie the complaint submit at nearest police station.
  • On the completion of the report it shall to be submitted to the employer and district officer.

Critical Analysis 

In the case Vishaka &ors V State of Rajasthan Supreme court givent the definition of sexual harassment which deliver any offensive  or unwanted physical touch or conduct or showing pornography or any definable sexual comments or text or color remark all are coming  under the sexual harassment. 

In this case Hon’ble Supreme Court given the guideline for prohibit the sexual harassment at workplace it is  strong legal  platform for women  to fight against the sexual harassment .Guideline related to the person in charge of any organization whether it is  private or public sector take effective step to prohibit sexual harassment at workplace. Penalty also charged on the accused . It is very critical topic to act upon of sexual harassment at work place. 


This judgement of supreme court is landmark judgment in case of sexual harassment at workplace it had vast impact on Indian judiciary and upcoming law in this regard. As we know , Sexual harassment frequently taken place in India . If any strict action not taken on this crime .Then it directly hamper the ration of women and also hamper the economic growth of country. It provide the right to life and right to dignity of work at workplace for women. This judgement not provide only justice but also upheld the spirituality  in fundamental right enshrined of Indian constitution.

The judgement of this case become a basic of the Sexual harassment at work place ( prevention, prohibition and redressal )Act ,2013 The  main reason behind the  stabilization of that to promote the gender equality at work place without any discrimination at the workplace. 


Q1: What were the Vishaka Guidelines?

A1: The Vishaka Guidelines were a set of directives issued by the Supreme Court of India to prevent and address sexual harassment at the workplace. These guidelines outlined the duties of employers to ensure a safe working environment for women.

Q2: Why was the Vishaka case significant?

A2: The Vishaka case was significant because it filled a legal void by providing a framework to address workplace sexual harassment, which was not covered under existing Indian law at the time.

Q3: How did the Vishaka case influence subsequent legislation?

A3: The Vishaka case laid the foundation for the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which codified many of the guidelines and principles established in the Vishaka judgment.

Q4: What impact did the Vishaka Guidelines have on employers?

A4: The Vishaka Guidelines mandated employers to create mechanisms for preventing and addressing sexual harassment, including forming Internal Complaints Committees and ensuring a safe working environment.

Q5: Can the principles of the Vishaka Guidelines be applied to other forms of workplace harassment?

A5: While the Vishaka Guidelines specifically address sexual harassment, the principles of ensuring a safe and respectful workplace environment can be extended to prevent other forms of harassment and discrimination as well.

Author-Aastha Srivastava, BABA Saheb Bheem Rao Ambedkar University (Central university) Lucknow.

Vishaka and others vs state of Rajasthan (AIR1997Sc311)

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