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Sexual Harassment at the Workplace? Budge to “SHe-Box

Currently, sexual harassment is a paramount problem that “women are facing in different sectors of life.” We rarely go a week without being reminded of these incidents, and clearly, our government,


Currently, sexual harassment is a paramount problem that “women are facing in different sectors of life.” We rarely go a week without being reminded of these incidents, and clearly, our government, administration, and society are all attempting to curb the same by ratifying new measures. Precisely, it is “any unwanted or inappropriate sexual attention, which includes touching, looks, comments, or gestures.” In India, till the Vishakha judgment[1] came, “there was a lack of legislation.” In this, the Supreme Court gave the guidelines derived from the “Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).” Thus, the “Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act, 2013)” after 16 years of the Vishaka Judgement. Lacking effective implementation of guidelines and the POSH Act, 2013, the Ministry of WCD launched an e-platform “SHE-box” for making complaints relating to sexual harassment of women at work. Thus, aggrieved women now have a new opportunity to make “workplace sexual harassment complaints electronically.’

What is Sexual harassment?

 “Sexual harassment” in its literal sense is defined under s. 354A[2] of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as well as in s. 2 (n)[3] of the POSH Act, 2013. Both define it as any unwanted or unwelcoming act towards a woman which causes physical contact, sexually coloured remarks, or shows pornography or demands for sexual favours. “Sexual Harrassment” was first defined in Vishaka’s case by the Supreme Court. “Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra[4]” was the first incident after Vishaka’s case where the Supreme Court “enlarged the scope of sexual harassment by ruling that physical contact was not essential for it to amount to “sexual harassment.” Then in the case of “Medha Kotwal Lele & Ors. V. UOI & Ors.[5],” the Supreme Court observed that the implementation of Visakha guidelines should be in agility to make a secure and safe environment available for women at the workplace in every aspect, so that they can get a dignified, decent, and respectful work environment. In this case, the SC also asserted that, on non-compliance with the Vishaka guidelines, aggrieved women are entitled to approach the respective High Courts.

The IPC, 1860 is a gender-neutral law that punishes sexual harassment committed against anyone, whereas the SH Act primarily protects women who are sexually harassed at work. Thus, it enlarges the scope of the workplace by giving the definition of “aggrieved woman”—”as any woman irrespective of any age, whether she is employed or not,” alleges to have committed sexual harassment by the respondent in any workplace, and when a woman is employed at a dwelling house, alleges to have been subjected to SH.

As a result, when a complaint is made by an ‘aggrieved woman, the SH Act comes into play, as it creates a sense of security for the working woman.

Legal remedies for SH:

In order to create a sense of security among working women, the POSH Act provides several remedies for the aggrieved woman.

  • ICC: Every employer shall constitute the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) at all offices with at least four members headed by female[6]
  • LCC: Every district officer nominated by the appropriate government shall constitute a local committee to receive a complaint from[7]
  • Complaint Mechanism: Any aggrieved woman may make a complaint to ICC OR LCC by writing within 3 months “from the date of the incident.” This section also provides a facility for the legal heir of an aggrieved woman to make a complaint in case she is physically or mentally incapable or is legally[8]
  • Compensation: if ICC or LCC is satisfied with the complaint, it directs the employer to deduct the appropriate salary of the respondent, considering several factors such as mental trauma, medical facility, financial status, [9]
  • Complaint at SHe-box: if an aggrieved woman doesn’t make a complaint in writing to ICC or LCC or FIR at a police station, she can directly register the complaint at SHe-Box online, where her complaint is directed to the head of ICC or LCC as per the jurisdiction.

Criminal laws also provide for remedies for sexual harassment, such as IPC, 1860, and CRPC, 1973.

Provisions under CRPC, 1973:

It provides a process to lodge an FIR whereby a First Information Report can be lodged orally or in writing at the commission of a cognizable offence. Once an FIR is lodged, after completing a few formalities, a copy of the FIR is given free of cost to the complainant. Police have to lodge FIR mandated for any cognizable offence, even without preliminary investigation. If a complainant is refused to lodge an FIR by the police, she has a series of options to get her complaints lodged, such as before the District Superintendent of Police and Judicial Magistrate.[10]

Penalty for Sexual Harassment under Indian Penal Code, 1860:

Section 354A[11] of IPC provides punishment as –

354A (2)[12] states that –“if a man commits physical contact and advances, demands or requests for sexual favors or shows pornography against the will of a woman,” then he shall be “punished with rigorous imprisonment up to three years, or with fine, or with both. For making sexually colored remarks, then he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description up to one year, or with fine, or with both under s.354A (3).”

What is She-Box?

SHe-Box, in general, refers to the “Sexual Harassment electronic box”. Therefore, it is an electronic platform open to all women (irrespective of any status), who don’t want to go to the police station (because of the social traditional thinking) to complain about the offence but still want to lodge a complaint and start an inquiry against the offender. At this platform, they can make a complaint against any offender silently and can even track the status of the complaint. She-Box has proved to be an effective step taken by WCD, which endeavors to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace through an online complaint mechanism in the simplest manner. Through SHE-box, the complaints of aggrieved women directly go to the competent authority to act on the matter.

Quick glimpse of SHe-Box:

Like all other web pages, She-box also provides several columns for the user. Furthermore, the ‘About’ section of this portal contains a wealth of information as well as various updated legislation and rules governing workplace sexual harassment.

Take a sneak peek of the web page, firstly it takes us on:

  1. On the HOME page, an aggrieved woman can directly register her complaint and can also check out the status of her complaint.
  2. ABOUT Page consists of meaning, requirements, and the recognition of SHe-Box. It also explains the requirements for registering the complaint in SHe-Box.
  3. HOW TO USE page provides a chart that explains the easy steps to register the complaint, making the process feasible. There are also two categories for the employees of the government and private sectors.
  4. FAQ: The FAQ page gives descriptive answers to numerous obvious questions that come to the minds of readers regarding sexual harassment.
  5. RESOURCES: This page covers all of the primary sources that She-Box is based on, such as the SH Act 2013, SH rules 2013, stepwise inquiry procedure, and so on.
  6. The She-box facility can be used by the government as well as private sector employees, thus the log-in page provides the signing-in option for the Administrator, employer, and Nodal officer.
  7. EMPANELLED INSTITUTE informs you about the institutes that relate to the awareness campaign regarding SH. As per the data, a total of 112 institutes were selected as impaneled after the advertisement was published on August 31st, 2017.[13]
  8. After this, there are a few web pages to join the campaign, provide feedback, and then address the contact details and other information of the responsible authorities on behalf of the government.


Today, the majority of women are well aware of their rights and protection norms regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, but still, women aren’t comfortable going and complaining about their harassment in countries like India. Thus, to ensure the implementation of the act and guidelines of the Vishakha case effectively, “The Ministry of Women & Child Development” has launched “Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box),” which provides “a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in an organized or unorganized, private or public sector,” “to facilitate the registration of complaints related to sexual harassment.”

Author(s) Name: Yamini Gupta ( Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore, (M.P))


[1]Vishakha and Ors. v State of Rajasthan and Ors. (1997) SC 3011.

[2] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 354A.

[3] Prevention of Sexual Harrassment Act 2013, s 2(n).

[4]Apparel Export Promotion Council v A.K. Chopra (1999) 1 SCC 759.

[5]Medha Kotwal Lele & Ors. v Union of India & Ors. (2012) INSC 643.

[6]“Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, s 4.”

[7] Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, s 6.”

[8] Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, s 9.”

[9] Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, s 13 & 15.”

[10] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 154(3) & 156(3).

[11] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 354A.

[12] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 354(2).

[13] ‘Empalled Institute’ (Shebox) <> accessed 11 October 2022