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Bombay HC bars open-court hearing of workplace sex harassment cases | India News

MUMBAI: Issuing guidelines for sexual harassment at workplace cases, the Bombay high court has directed that henceforth all such matters will be heard in-camera or in the judge’s chambers and not in open court, and the orders are not to be uploaded on the official website. The HC has also barred the media from publishing the proceedings without court permission.
The bench of Justice Gautam Patel, in its September 24 order, said it is imperative in the interest of both sides to protect the identities of the parties from disclosure, even accidental disclosure, in proceedings under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.
“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,” it said. “The prohibition on publishing names, address or other personal identifiable information of the parties is absolute,” it said, and directed all persons, including media, to ensure strict compliance and any failure would amount to contempt of court. Witnesses too must sign a statement of non-disclosure and confidentiality.
“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 bench said.
“In the order sheets, the names of parties will not be mentioned,” said the court, adding that the endeavour will be to anonymise the identities of parties, such as email ID, mobile number and address. The names and addresses of the witnesses will also not be noted, it said. The order was passed in a suit filed under Posh Act this year by ‘P’ versus ‘A and others’.

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