The Delhi High Court has said that ‘unwelcome’ physical contact cannot be termed as sexual harassment unless it is in the nature of a sexually oriented behaviour.
The observation by the bench came during the hearing of an appeal by a woman scientist against the clean chit given by the Complaints Committee and Disciplinary Authority (CCDA) to the alleged person who was accused for the sexual harassment against the lady.
The woman had contended the case of sexual harassment recalling the incident where the man had entered the laboratory where the woman was working and had snatched samples from her hand, thrown the materials and pushed her out of the room.
The Complaints Committee after examining her complaint had concluded that "it was a case of altercation in the background of the uncongenial environment prevailing in the division".
The disciplinary authority after receiving committee report had given clean chit to the accused person.
Rejecting the woman's appeal, HC ruled out her challenge to the constitution of the committee and the disciplinary authority, saying that there is no infirmity in their setup.
The High Court said, "Undoubtedly, physical contact or advances would constitute sexual harassment, provided such physical contact is a part of the sexually determined behaviour. Such physical contact must be in the context of a behaviour which is sexually oriented."
"Similarly, a physical contact which has no undertone of a sexual nature and is not occasioned by the complainant's gender may not necessarily amount to sexual harassment."