PIL plea says it will help check abuse against women
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a PIL petition to extend the Vishakha guidelines against sexual harassment in workplace to ashrams, madrasas and Catholic institutions. The Vishakha guidelines introduced by the apex court in 1997 were evolved into a parliamentary law called the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013. The petition filed by advocate Maneesh Pathak said religious institutions also have women employed there other than those working on a voluntary basis. “If the Vishakha Guidelines are extended to these religious institutions, it would assist a lot in reducing sexually related crimes against women at religious places by gurus or leaders of that particular institution,” the petition said.
It said the government should do a background verification of religious leaders, especially “new upcoming babas” or “heads of those madrasas” and churches. It also sought directions to the Centre to provide adequate measures for women safety at religious places by conducting periodic checks by State women panels. The petition mentioned recent instances such as cases of priests being accused of sexual abuse in Kerala and of self-styled gurus like Daati Maharaj, Baba Ram Rahim and Asaram Bapu.