KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

MARITAL RAPE

DIVORCE

MAINTENANCE & ALIMONY

CHILD CUSTODY

RIGHT TO PROPERTY

CIVIL RIGHTS

CYBER LAWS

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

WOMEN'S RIGHTS REGARDING THE POLICE

AB

SAMJHAUTA

NAHIN

KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS IS THE FIRST STEP
TOWARDS EMPOWERING AND PROTECTING YOURSELF.

Know

It is your right to know your rights. When you know your rights, you know when they are being respected and protected. When you know your rights, you cannot be denied of them.

Act

If you feel disrespected or discriminated against, exercise your rights and let your voice be heard.

Share

As a parent, wife, daughter, friend, colleague and a woman these rights are here to protect you and you have the responsibility to empower others along with yourself. Spread the word today.




Disclaimer: The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not and should not be treated as legal advise. A lawyer should be consulted for advise regarding each individual situation. We do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage or injury, financial or otherwise, suffered by any person acting on information contained in or omitted from this website.



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Harassment at Workplace

As per Section 2(n) of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 Sexual harassment includes unwanted physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favors in return for a promotion/ receiving an incentive/ raise, sexually-colored remarks, unwanted personal attention, voyeurism (showing pornography) and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature to create an intimidating, hostile or repugnant environment. Any comments on physical attributes, spreading rumors about or rating others as to sexual activity or performance, talking about one's sexual activity in front of others and displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures and/or written material, indecent exposure (flashing of genitals/ masturbation), unwanted invites for 'dates' would constitute sexual harassment. Basically, any act on the part of a male colleague which makes a woman colleague awkward or uncomfortable is covered under this Act. It is left to the woman's discretion as to what is harassment in her opinion as it might differ from case to case.

Section 15 (a) of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides that in order to determine the compensation to be paid to the aggrieved woman, the mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional stress caused to the aggrieved woman. This would include any statements, actions or omission of actions that would result in an individual feeling upset, ashamed, threatened, worthless, lacking empowerment and would include forceful isolation from friends/ family.
Yes, according to Section 354D of Indian Penal Code, stalking a colleague even without talking to her or making gestures, etc. constitutes harassment. Any act of a romantic/ sexual nature, which is unwelcomed by a woman/ girl is considered to be a form of sexual harassment. Harassment whether sexual or mental has been dealt with in the Indian Penal Code as well as The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The punishment for stalking and sexual harassment is given only in Section 354, 354A, 354B, 354C & 354D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Yes, sharing inappropriate jokes/ sexually colored comments constitutes harassment. Any joke or comment which is inappropriate according to a female colleague is considered harassment.
Yes, sending SMS at odd hours constitutes harassment. In a work environment, calls/ SMS after office hours could potentially constitute harassment. However, this would be subject to the nature of work done by the employee.
Yes, sending emails containing personal content constitutes harassment. When unwelcome sexually coloured behavior, sexual advances, physical and verbal or non-verbal or conduct such as comments, remarks or jokes, letters, phone calls, SMS, emails, gestures, exhibition of pornography, physical contact, stalking, sound or display of derogatory nature have the purpose and effect of interfering with a women's work or of creating an intimidating hostile or offensive employment or living environment.
Yes, passing any gender-based derogatory remarks which make a woman uncomfortable would constitute harassment.
An employer needs to be aware of the atmosphere in the office and needs to ensure that the women/ girls in the office have a safe work environment. It would be the responsibility of the employer to firstly spread awareness in the work place for sensitizing the employees towards the issue of harassment in the work place. More so, it would be the obligation of the employer to set up an internal committee to look into any complaints of harassment, ensure timely completion of the inquiry in an unbiased, fair manner. The obligation of the employer would extend to supporting the victim in filing any criminal complaint if she so wishes to do so. Additionally, with sexual harassment being a crime, employers are obligated to report offences. The above mentioned duties are described under Section 19 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The penalty under Section 354D (2) of Indian Penal Code,1860, range from one to three years imprisonment. On the first conviction it is up to three years and on second or subsequent conviction it extends up to five years and/or a fine other than any disciplinary/service action taken by the employer. Therefore, if someone is complained against for the first time for stalking then he can be released by the police on bail, as it is a bailable offence, In case of, any second or subsequent incident the accused will have to seek bail only from the court as the police will have no jurisdiction to grant him bail.



Disclaimer: The answers to the questions above are aimed at addressing queries/concerns pertaining to sexual harassment only. Accordingly, any references/mention of harassment in any of the answers to the questions below refer to sexual harassment alone.

Note: The Vishakha Guidelines were a set of guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in 1997 on prevention of sexual harassment of women in the workplace and were to be strictly observed in all workplaces. These guidelines were superseded in 2013 by The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which kept the essence of the guidelines and added more provisions.






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Domestic Violence

Protection under the Domestic Violence Act is available to all women, irrespective of the relationship with the accused. She may be a grand-mother, mother, sister, sister in law, daughter, daughter in law, mother in law, girlfriend or a live in partner of the accused.
Yes, live-in-relationships are covered under Domestic Violence Act. As per Section 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act any "domestic relationship" would include a relationship in the nature of marriage and live-in-relationship is considered as a relationship in the nature of marriage. As long as the parties are perceived to be a "couple" in the eyes of their society and are residing together, they would be considered to be in a domestic relationship.
DV Act covers all types of violence, including but not limiting to physical harassment/ abuse, emotional harassment/ abuse, mental harassment, verbal harassment/ abuse, sexual harassment/ abuse, social harassment, economic harassment/ abuse.

The following reliefs can be sought under Section 18 & 19 of DV Act. However it must be kept in mind that granting of these reliefs is at the discretion of the Courts:

  1. To stop committing any further acts of Domestic Violence
  2. Return of stridhan, jewellery, clothes, etc.
  3. Not to operate the joint bank accounts or lockers without permission of the court
  4. Not to disturb or interfere with her peaceful enjoyment of residence
  5. Not to dispose off the house she is residing in
  6. If her residence is a rented property then either to ensure payment of rent or secure any other suitable alternative accommodation which offers her the same security as earlier residence
  7. Not to give up the rights in the property in which she is residing without the permission of the court
  8. Not to take any loan against the house/property in which are residing or mortgage it or create any other financial liability involving the property
  9. Any or all of the following orders for her safety requiring the person to
    • Remove himself/stay away from her place of residence or workplace
    • Stop making any attempts to meet her
    • Stop calling her over phone or making any attempts to communicate with you letter, email etc.
    • Stop talking to her about marriage or forcing her to meet a particular person of his choice for marriage
    • Stay away from the school of her child/children or any other place where she and her children visit
    • Surrender possession of firearms, any other weapon or any other dangerous substance
    • Not to acquire possession of firearms, any other weapon or any other dangerous substance and not to be in possession of any similar article
    • Not to consume alcohol or drugs with similar effect which led to domestic violence in the past
    • Any other measure required for ensuring her or her children's safety
Reliefs that can be claimed under Section 20 of DV Act are as follows:
  1. Maintenance for her or her children
  2. Compensation for physical injury including medical expenses
  3. Compensation for mental torture and emotional distress
  4. Compensation for loss of earning
  5. Compensation for loss caused by destruction, damage, removal of any property from your possession or control
Yes, Domestic Violence is independent and parallel to other legal remedies as seeking maintenance under DV Act does not restrain one's right of seeking maintenance under 125 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. However, the quantum of maintenance being granted in this case would depend on the amount of maintenance being claimed under the DV Act. The very purpose of enacting the DV Act was to provide for a remedy which is an amalgamation of civil rights of the victim. Intention is to protect women against violence of any kind especially that occurring within the family.
Domestic Violence can be filed even after separation and up till 3 years after divorce.
Yes. Section 21 of the DV Act provisions for handing over the custody of the child(ren) as long as the actions of the mother are not considered to be harmful to the interests of the child. Under Domestic Violence Act, a wife can seek custody of her children, visitation rights and maintenance for her children.



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Marital Rape

The concept of marital rape is not yet recognized in India.
The closest remedy available to an Indian wife is Section 376 A of the Indian Penal Code,1860 which punishes a man who has sexual intercourse with his own wife who is living separately under a decree of separation without her consent. Also, a wife can file a case against her husband for unnatural sexual offences under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. As the section punishes sexual intercourse against the order of nature irrespective of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the individuals. Further, the wife can seek divorce on the ground of cruelty wherein marital rape will constitute cruelty.



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Divorce

A divorce can only be granted after the resolution of all disputes that exist between a man and his wife. The grounds of divorce available to the husband and grant of divorce on those grounds has no link with the wife's application of maintenance.
No, the custody of child does not ultimately go to husband if a wife files for divorce or maintenance. For determining which parent gets custody of the child, the Court will always take into consideration the facts and circumstances of each parent and will decide in the best interest of the child. Though as a matter of practice, custody usually is granted to the mother and the father can claim custody only if he is able to prove that the mother is mentally unfit to take care of the children. Even the financial status of the mother is of no consideration when it comes to deciding a custody petition. In case the mother does not earn as much as the father, the Court can direct the father to pay maintenance to the mother and yet let the mother have the custody of the minor children.
No. Since India is not a no-fault jurisdiction, whether a husband or a wife, the grounds on which the divorce is being sought will have to be proved. The said grounds are available in The Hindu Marriage Act, The Special Marriage Act and the various other statutes governing different religions.
Divorce, simply put, means that the relationship of a husband and wife ceases to exist and they would revert to their single status, as be the case before they were married. A judicial separation however does not change the status of the parties and they continue to be a "husband" and "wife" who no longer live with each other nor maintain any form of intimacy. The basic difference being that in case of judicial separation the husband and wife continue to have a legal right in each other's properties, etc. whereas in case of divorce the two have no legal rights whatsoever in each other's assets.
The marriage which has been solemnized according to rituals or otherwise, with a person who is already married is considered to be a void marriage. The law does not recognize such a marriage; however, any child born out of such a relationship will have the same rights as a child born to parents out of wedlock. The action of marrying someone, who already has a legally wedded spouse who is alive is termed as Bigamy and is punishable under the Section 494 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.



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Maintenance & Alimony

The following person can claim maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:

  1. Wife who is unable to maintain herself or
  2. Legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not, unable to maintain itself , or
  3. Legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority, where such child, is by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, unable to maintain itself or
  4. Father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself.
As on date, only a legally wedded wife is entitled to claim maintenance under S. 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. However, a woman in a live-in-relationship will be entitled to maintenance under the DV Act.

There is no set formula or percentage for determining the amount of maintenance to be granted. It is case specific. However a few factors that are taken into account are:

  1. Status of the parties at the time of filing for maintenance
  2. Standard of living/ luxury enjoyed at the time of being married
  3. Income of the parties
  4. Dependants of the parties including children. Here, loans/ EMIs are not considered as liabilities
  5. Reasonable wants of the claimants towards food, clothing, shelter, medical attendance with treatment, education

The amount of maintenance fixed for the wife should be such as she can and live in reasonable comfort considering her status and the mode of life she was used to when she lived with her husband and also that she does not feel handicapped in the prosecution of her case.

Even if the wife is earning she is entitled to claim maintenance if she can prove that she is earning lesser than her husband and is living a lower standard of living as compared to what she was when she was married and residing with her husband.
No, even if divorce has been granted on the basis of cruelty inflicted by the wife on the husband she will still be entitled to alimony. The main purpose of granting maintenance/ alimony to a wife is to ensure that she is able to live a dignified life even post separation/ divorce from the husband. However, she is entitled to this maintenance/alimony only till the time she remains single and does not remarry.

There are 4 different provisions under which maintenance can be claimed:

  1. Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act,1955 deals with the maintenance pendente lite during the proceeding between husband and wife.
  2. Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 provides maintenance to a Hindu Wife if she is living separately from her husband, has been deserted by her husband, has been subject to cruelty etc.
  3. Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, is enacted for social justice and to protect women, children as well as old and infirm poor parents.
  4. Section 20 of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act provides appropriate compensation to an applicant to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the applicant and any child of the applicant as a result of domestic violence.

Maintenance granted under the provisions of the DV Act is actually "compensation" given to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the applicant and any child of the applicant as a result of domestic violence. This amount is determined on the basis of the lifestyle lead by the husband which would have been enjoyed by the wife if she had continued to live with him. This is decided irrespective of the wife working and earning or not.

Maintenance granted under the provision of S. 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is to prevent destitution and vagrancy of the wife after separation and is usually granted only in cases where the wife has no income at all and is incapable of earning any.




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Child Custody

Even though the father is considered as the legal guardian of a child, the Court shall usually award it to the mother.

Under Section 6 of The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, in most cases, a court will award the custody of a boy under 2 years and a girl child less than 7 years to the mother unless it can be proved that the mother is violent/ abusive. She cannot be deprived of the custody only because she has remarried or she is financially not as secure as the father.

A person who is not given permanent custody of his/her child can seek visitation rights/interim custody for a particular period of time.

A person can file for custody even without filing for divorce or maintenance etc. Custody can be claimed under Section 25 of Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 by either the mother or the father.



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Right to Property

The 2005 Amendment of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 brought about some radical changes, the most important of which are the following:

  1. A daughter now has an equal birth right as her brother in HUF property (Section 6(1) of the Hindu Succession Act 1956).
  2. A female heir can now demand a partition of a dwelling house wholly occupied by a joint family.
  3. A widow is now considered a Class 1 heir and any property of the deceased will now devolve upon her, irrespective of the classification of the property.
  4. A Hindu woman will have complete and absolute ownership of any property on her name and not just a life interest in the same (Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956).
No. A daughter-in-law does not have a direct claim on her father-in-law's self acquired property. Any claim of the daughter-in-law shall arise out of the rights of her husband (dead or alive) in the said property. For eg. "A" is the widowed daughter-in-law of X who owns a house purchased out of his own funds. X has 2 sons B & C. After the death of X and B, A can claim half of X's house, since B would have had a right on the same if he were still alive.
Yes. As per Section 16 (1) of Hindu Marriage Act,1955, children born of void marriage would have to be treated as legitimate for all purpose including succession to the property. Accordingly, an illegitimate child is entitled to the self acquired property of his father, but not to the ancestral property of his father.



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Civil Rights

The right to life ensures that a human being has the right to live and should not be killed by another human being. The right to life is embodied in Article 21 of Constitution of India.
Every person has a right to have family and maintain family relationships.
The right to personal freedom is contained in Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). According to Article 5 of the ECHR every person has the 'right to liberty' and the right to 'security of person'.
Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right which is guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India. Each and every citizen have a right to practice the religion of his choice peacefully.
Every person has right to hold his view independent of other people's views. However this is subject to reasonable restrictions including the fact that exercise of such right does not result in depriving some other person of his rights under law.
This right encompasses the right of individuals to travel anywhere within the territory of a country, and they also have the right to leave the country and return to it. The right includes not only visiting places, but changing the place where the individual resides or works.
Freedom of the press entitles every person to communicate and express through various mediums, such as electronic media and published materials. However this is subject to reasonable restrictions including the fact that exercise of such right does not result in depriving some other person of his rights under law.
Article 14 of Constitution of India guarantees that the government shall not deny to any person in India equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws. It means that every person is equal in the eyes of law irrespective of his status.
Every person has the right to be protected from crime and also has the right to get justice if he is the victim of any crime. Right to equal pay for equal work- Equal Remuneration Act (1976) provides for payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. It also prevents discrimination on the ground of sex, against women in recruitment and service conditions.
Maternity Benefit Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child-birth and provides for maternity benefit and certain other benefits.



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Cyber Laws

The cyber crimes which are covered under IT Act are:

  1. Cyber pornography
  2. Sale of illegal articles
  3. Online gambling
  4. Intellectual Property crimes: including software piracy, copyright infringement, trademarks violations, theft of computer source code, cyber squatting etc.
  5. Forgery
  6. Cyber Defamation
  7. Cyber stalking
  8. Unauthorized access to computer systems or networks
  9. Theft of information contained in electronic form

When a victim is abused online he/she needs to :

  1. File a complaint with cyber cell.
  2. Take screenshots of the post which abused him/her online.
  3. Do not delete the content from the history.
  4. Always keep the original device in your possession.
Once the complaint has been filed along with the screenshots with the cyber cell. A diary number is given to the Complainant for tracking the status of her complaint. After accepting complaint with screenshots, the Investing Officer lodges/registers an FIR. The Investigating Officer the goes through the complaint and tracks the IP Address of the computer/system/device from which the objectionable content was posted. Arrests if mandatory under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 are made. The Investigating Officer then enquires from the account holder of the above mentioned IP Address about the users of the said system/device/computer. Thereafter, a charge sheet is filed and the trial begins like all other criminal cases.



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Right to Education

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.

The Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children (to be reimbursed by the State as part of the public-private partnership plan). Children are admitted in to private schools based on economic status or caste based reservations. It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission. The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.




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Women's rights regarding the police

No person can be arrested without being informed about the grounds for arrest. The police personnel is obligated to inform the person nominated by the arrested/accused. It is illegal to keep a person in detention for more than 24 hours without the orders of the Magistrate. The accused has to be presented before the concerned Magistrate who would then order Judicial Custody or Police Custody. (Section 56 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973).

As per Section 49 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 no more restraint than is necessary to prevent escape (followed in the cases DK Basu v. State of West Bengal, Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration and Prem Shankar Shuklav v. Delhi Administration) came into effect which stated that handcuffing is against the Constitution of India and only in exceptional cases where there is apprehension of escaping, extreme violent behavior or tendency to commit suicide can it be permitted.

No woman shall be arrested after sunset or before sunrise except with written permission of the Judicial Magistrate of the concerned jurisdiction. (Section 46 (4) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.)

Only a female police can search another female. The search should be carried out in a decent manner. A male police officer cannot search a female offender. He can however search a woman's house. The team that goes to search a woman's house has to have a woman police officer present and the search can be only during the daylight. The police officers present shall be wearing their name tags and shall present the ID proofs if so demanded by the accused woman.
According to the guidelines issued, a woman has the privilege of lodging a complaint via email or registered post. If, for some reason, a woman can't go to the police station, she can send a written complaint through an email or registered post addressed to a senior police officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. The officer then directs the SHO of the Police Station, of the area where the incident occurred, to conduct proper verification of the complainant and lodge an FIR. The police can then come over to the residence of the victim to take her statement.
Women cannot be called to the police station for interrogation under section 160 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. This law provides women the right of not being physically present at the police station for interrogation. The police can interrogate a woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends.
A woman victim of rape has a right to record her statement in private - in front of the magistrate without being overheard by anyone else. She also has a freedom to record her statement with a lady constable or a police officer in person. Under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the police will have to give the privacy to the victim without stressing her in front of masses.

In case of untimely registration of a complaint the Police cannot refuse to register an FIR even if a considerable period of time has elapsed since the incident of Rape/Molestation. If the police state that they can't lodge an FIR since the incident was not reported earlier, it is incorrect. The Supreme Court has ruled that the police must register an FIR even if there has been a gap between the report and the occurrence of the incident.

As per the Sec 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, every Police officer is law bound to register the First Information Report of any cognizable offence committed, irrespective of the jurisdiction in which the offence was committed. When a cognizable offence is reported, the police officer registering the case forthwith starts the investigation, if it is committed in his jurisdiction. In Case it is beyond jurisdiction the officer registers the FIR under number 00 and sends it to the police station, where the offence was committed for further investigation. Such FIR is called as Zero FIR. It is for the convenience of the victim that instead of making the victim run from pillar to post, the police officer, where the victim approaches as per his convenience, the case is recorded and police officer sends it to the concerned police station.

Under no circumstances can the identity of a rape victim be revealed. Neither the police nor media can make known the name of the victim in public. Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes the disclosure of a victim's identity a punishable offense. Printing or publishing the name or any matter which may make known the identity of a woman against whom an offense has been committed is punishable. This is done to prevent social victimization or ostracism of the victim of a sexual offense. Even while a judgment is in progress at the Court the name of the victim is not indicated, she is only described as 'victim' in the judgment.



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