The Delhi High Court has stated that a person facing an enquiry by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) on allegations of sexual harassment, can’t be allowed to be represented by a person with a legal background or next friend.
As per the Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula, if the same is allowed, it would create prejudice for the complainant who does not have any legal representation before the ICC.
In this case, the petitioner had challenged an email communication sent to him by the ICC wherein it declined the petitioner’s request for legal representation in a sexual harassment enquiry initiated against him.
His request was denied as there is an express bar against legal representation as per Rule 7(6) of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules
The petitioner had earlier challenged Rule 7(6) of the Act but he withdrew the plea and in the subsequent plea he restricted his prayer to be represented by a person of his choice,
After taking note of the facts of the case, the Bench ruled that the instant plea is not maintainable.
The Court opined that if the petitioner’s challenge to the Rule 7(6) was successful then he could be allowed legal representation but that was not the case, therefore, the court has to respect the law as it stands.
The court observed that even though an enquiry might have far-reaching consequences for the accused, it can’t be lost in sight that it is a domestic enquiry which is not the same as proceeding before a court. The court said that it cannot indulge in reading down or diluting the provision in question.
Title: Johney Reberio versus UoI & Ors
Case No.: WP C 14547 of 2022
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