The Bombay High Court on Friday issued a slew of guidelines for hearing cases pertaining to sexual harassment of women at the workplace and said such matters will only be heard in-camera or in the judge’s chambers, Live Law reported. The court added that no media reporting on verdicts should be allowed without its prior approval.
Justice Gautam Patel said it was imperative to protect the identities of those involved in such cases. “This is in the interest of both sides,” the court said. “There appear to be no established guidelines so far in such matters. This order, setting out a working protocol for future orders, hearings and case file management, is a first endeavour in that direction.”
Patel passed the order while hearing a case under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The judge said names of the parties will not be mentioned in the order along with other personally identifiable information such as email ids, contact details, addresses and names of witnesses.
“All persons, including the media, are required to ensure strict compliance with these conditions of anonymity,” the order said. “Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.”
He added that such orders will not be passed in open court and cannot be uploaded on the High Court website.
“Both sides and all parties and advocates, as also witnesses, are forbidden from disclosing the contents of any order, judgment or filing to the media or publishing any such material in any mode or fashion by any means, including social media, without specific leave of the court,” the order added.
Moreover, the guidelines said that all records of such cases will be maintained in sealed envelopes and will not be issued to any person without permission of the court.