Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 PIL

This PIL was filed before the Bombay High Court by lawyer Abha Singh and Janaki Chaudhary, a corporate employee seeking changes to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Petitioners contend that they have encountered 'various deficiencies' in functioning of the said act. The ICC member have been conferred upon with quasi-judicial orders without any kind of safeguards. This affects the parties as well as the members. It also acts as a barrier to address the issue of sexual harassment in a thorough manner. 

 

This PIL was regarding the protection and rights of ICC Member, who are akin to judges and have not been provided safeguards for them to act without fear and favour. They should be protected from the with ‘hire and fire’ policy of the private sector. It is seen that their service conditions should be similar to public servants having protection with stability of tenure and without any ‘hire and fire’ policy. This PIL focused on the member of ICC in private companies who are at the payroll of the company and can be terminated within 3 months without following any principles of natural justice. This creates conflict of interest and constraints ICC members from taking free, fair and impartial decisions . They are also subjected to victimisation and targeting if they go against the will of the senior management. As, ICC members are on the payroll of the company it becomes difficult for the members to protect their own rights in the fear of loss of their position. This seriously affects the committee to function optimally.  

 

Such incidents act as barriers to address the serious issues of sexual harassment and also go against the guidelines of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (1997) 6 SCC 241. The grounds on which the PIL was filed are mentioned herewith below: 

1)    That the member of ICC should be treated as public functionaries while discharging their duties under POSH Act, 2013, as they are akin to judges. The legislative intent of this Act is to provide statutory duties on members of ICC. ICC is similar to an adjudicatory body. 

2)    The member of ICC be treated as a public functionary and discharging their duties under the POSH Act, 2013. It can be said that the private employees are discharging the duties at par with the public servants. 

3)    POSH Act creates a discrimination in between the ICC members of public sector and private sector. The public sector department have the protection of natural justice where the private sector does not have any protection. 

4)    The Act also creates difference between the Local Complaints committee and the ICC. The foremen get the independence of decision making without fear and favor.

5)    Right to safe working is a fundamental right which is provided by the constitution under Article 21. The ICC members should also receive such protection. The lack of safeguards violates their right to safe workplace. 

 

This will help remove all the loopholes which twist the arms of the ICC members in the private sectors form of arbitrary transfers, termination and victimisation un unrelated areas of work. 



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 4/28/2021 12:00:00 AM


FIRE PIL

In the wake of bomb blast and other vulnerabilities existing in the various towns of Maharashtra, the Government of Maharashtra had issued Draft Special Regulations for Building Vulnerable to Manmade Disasters vide Notice dated 27th February, 2009. This regulation has still not been notified and has not seen the light of the day. It been approximately 9-10 years and there have been many serious incidents and disasters which prompted Adv Abha Singh to take cognizance into the matter. She filed a Public Interest Litigation in 2018 to enforce the regulation which were proposed in 2009 in regards to such fire incidents. Such incidents were against public interest and were needed to be processed in priority. 

 

It is statistically proven that there have been almost 48,434 fire incident which have taken place in Mumbai in the last 10 years. This included overall data including the total number of fire calls, the total number of high rise building fire calls, residential building fire calls, commercial building fire calls, number of fire in slum areas, fire due to electric circuit failure, fire due to gas leakage, how many people died in the fire and the total property damage. The major reasons to such fire incidents are faulty electrical circuits and gas cylinder leakages. In totality around 609 people have lost their lives This includes 368 male, 212 female, 29 children and a total of five fire brigade personnel. The damage has been done of approximately Rs. 89,04,86,102. Such incidents have continued to happen, where government of Maharashtra has continued to sleep over NBC guidelines. 

 

The petition was filed on four ground : 

1)    Ground 1: Draft Special Regulations for Building Vulnerable to Manmade Disasters have been issued under the provisions of section 37(1AA) of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The state government were mandated by the above act  to publish the approved modification with or without changes, and subject to such conditions as it may deem fit, or may decide not to carry out such modification. The publication was not made and no decision was taken to issue the Final Notification or to rescind the Draft Notification.

2)    Ground 2: The decision was to be taken in the period of 90 days as mandated but 9 years have elapsed and yet no decision has been taken in the matter.

3)    Ground 3: The matter involves public interest and has consequences and repercussions on the “Right to Life”  under the Indian Constitution.

4)   Ground 4: Under section 46 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966, any Notice of Draft Notification has got a statutory force that is the reason the Regulations need to be implemented at once, right away. 

This Fire PIL is one of the important steps taken by the Petitioners for bringing a change in society. It is very important for the government to after such incidents and take prompt action on the same. 

 



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 4/28/2021 12:00:00 AM


SALMAN KHAN HIT & RUN

One of Adv Abha Singh’s high-profile cases has been the Salman Khan hit-and-run case. When the Bollywood star was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 2002. Adv Abha Singh was one of the main reasons behind the verdict. She had filed a petition alleging that the Mumbai police was shielding the actor and delaying investigation in the case. She also said the hearing in this case where the Maharashtra Government has gone against the order of the Bombay High Court. The provisions under which he was charged are given below: 

 

1.     IPC – 304A (rash and negligent driving which has a punishment up to two years), 279 (rash driving), 134(abetment of assault), 337 and 338(causing grievous hurt by endangering life or personal safety), 427(mischief).

2.     Motor Vehicles Act- driving without licence

3.     Bombay Prohibition Act-driving after liquor consumption

 

Earlier, the case was filed under Section 304A (rash and negligent driving) which was later in 2003 was converted to Section 304 Part (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) on the charges filed by Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s rules. Major points to consider here was that The ‘star’ singer Kalaam Khan was missed out. The singer’s lawyers gave the defence that he was in England. But Advocate Abha Singh appearing for Santosh Dhandekar, an activist who filed a case for alleged perjury (making false demand) application against the police, saying that under Section 275 of CrPC a witness can be asked to depose via audio or video conference. She claimed that he was deliberately not being called.

 

“By not examining Kamaal Khan, police tried to cover (hide) an important piece of evidence which might have thrown light on who was driving the car,” she said. She also claims that the prosecution also dropped his name from the list without giving any reason. Moreover, she also brought light  to the wrong set of doctors were also brought before the court who claimed that they had conducted the post-mortem on the deceased. This resulted in three years’ delay in the case.

Considering all these points the Mumbai’s Sessions Court announced five years’ rigorous imprisonment to the actor against which the actor got an interim bail for two days by the Bombay High Court.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 4/28/2021 12:00:00 AM


MANUAL SCAVENGING PIL

This Petition is being filed pursuant to repeated cases of deaths of sewage workers coming to light in the news. The alarming frequency of deaths indicates that the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR Act, 2013) and the rules made thereunder (PEMSR Rules, 2013) are not being complied with. Hence this Petition seeks issuance of urgent writs to ensure that the right to life of sewage workers is protected and those found violating the law are brought to justice. 

 

Adv Abha Singh took the initiative to file a Public Interest Litigation in regards to the issue of the rising number of sewer deaths and the harrowing conditions faced by sanitation workers, citing violation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act.This PIL looked upon the aspects over the high number of sanitation worker deaths during sewerage cleaning, despite the ban on manual scavenging and unprotected sewer operations. The PIL focused on giving criminal conviction in result to the above. 

The petition also pointed that there were 12 deaths that were caused due to cleaning sewers in Maharashtra and in none of these cases, protective gear was provided. The safety equipment typically used did not include full body suits, oxygen cylinders and other equipment. This was termed to be modern day untouchability and was violative of Article 17 of the Indian Constitution. A compensation of 10 lakhs per death was also prayed for but no one was compensated as per RTI. The government is violating laws and also the precedents by the apex court.  The grounds on which the petition has been filed are: 

 

Ground No. 1: Section 7 and 2 (d) of the PEMSR Act, 2013 prohibits Employment of People for Hazardous Cleaning of Sewers or Septic Tanks. The above section prohibits any person, local authority or agency, to engage or employ any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or septic tank and this shows that continuance of such an activity resulting in death of the workers are in complete violation with the above mentioned provision. The provision was violated in spirit and in letter. This also amounts to imprisonment of 5 years. Therefore all the contractors and employers are liable as they still continued to engage in Hazardous Cleaning of Sewers or Septic Tanks.

Ground No. 2: Section 10 of the PEMSR Act, 2013 imposes a Three (3) Month Limitation Period for Filing Criminal Complaints for Offences Committed under the Act. A worker is made to clean a septic tank in a housing society in a hazardous manner, the cause of action will lapse with the passage of three months. This would make it impossible for any public-spirited citizen to take-up the cause and seek justice. There should be no limitation period attached to such dangerous, which is done by such poor people who have no assistance to file such complaints. This bar should be declared unconstitutional. 

Ground No. 3Sections 24 to 42 of the PEMSR Act, 2013 lay down a Comprehensive Legal Framework to Detect, Monitor and Pursue Cases under the Act, though such provisions have never been put to use as such committees have never been constituted. No committee has been formed to detect and help out such workers and protect them. These provisions were also said to be violated. 

Ground No. 4: Section 33 of the PEMSR Act, 2013 vests Local Authorities and Other Agencies with a Statutory Duty to use Modern Technology for cleaning of Sewers. This too was violated as no technology was used to prevent workers from working in such hazardous conditions. As cleaning such spetic tanks are hazardous in nature, modern machinery and technology should be used to clean such tanks or sewers. 

Therefore this petition was filed to safegaurd scuh workers from exploitation. 



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 4/28/2021 12:00:00 AM


PIL FOR THE DISABLED PEOPLE – A FIGHT FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

The Disability PIL, Public Interest Litigation (L) No. 44 of 2018, has been filed by the Petitioner advocate Abha Singh, a former Civil Servant as well as an advocate practicing in High Court of Judicature at Bombay and the Petitioner Nisha Jamvwal, who is a popular brand consultant, designer and a columnist. This PIL is filed requesting for specific facilities in malls, railway stations and other public places for the comfort of disabled people.

The main relief prayed by the Petitioners through this PIL is the construction of wheelchair-friendly ramps in several Government and private establishments. As these establishments don’t have wheelchair-friendly ramps, the disabled people don’t have easy access to these buildings without any help and this has added to their many problems. 

Rule 41 of The Development Control Regulations for Greater Bombay, 1991

The Petitioners have already submitted a list of establishments along with the photographs proving that wheelchair-friendly ramps are still not available at such popular places. The Petitioners have emphasized Rule 41 of The Development Control Regulations for Greater Bombay, 1991, which states that special amenities are required for physically handicapped people.

Infringement of Rights of the Persons with Disability

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has been specifically enacted to make sure that rights of the persons with disability are not infringed. The State Government as well as the various authorities who are responsible for the same have ignored such important rights which infringe on the rights of disabled people and it is also a violation of provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Rights of Disabled People Taken for Granted 

The need for filing this PIL has arisen because the rights of disabled people have always been taken for granted in our Country. At the hearing dated 26th June,2018, the Advocate General appearing for the State submitted that the State is preparing an Action Plan in accordance with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Though the Advocate General stated that an Action Plan was being prepared nothing specific has been done yet. The Government needs to understand that if an Action Plan is not made immediately, it would seriously affect the life and liberty of the disabled people.

D.C Regulation No. 41 should be Strictly Followed

The Hon’ble High Court by an Order dated 17th July,2018 directed the learned counsel for the Corporation to take necessary instructions as to whether the Corporation is strictly following the D.C Regulation No. 41. The learned counsel for MMRDA was also directed to take necessary instructions.

Respondents directed to comply with the Development Regulation

The Hon’ble  Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and the Hon’ble Shri Justice N.M Jamdar by an Order dated April 22,2019 directed the Respondent No. 3 - Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Respondent No. 5 - Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to disclose whether the buildings falling within their jurisdiction comply with the Development Regulation pertaining to special amenities for physically handicapped persons.

This Disability PIL is one of the important steps taken by the Petitioners for bringing a change in society. It is necessary that the disabled people should be able to live a self-sufficient and independent life. This is possible only if there are specific facilities available for them. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the Indian Railways as well as the other parties who are the Respondents in this PIL will be forced to take some crucial steps immediately for the welfare ofdisabled people.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 4/27/2021 12:00:00 AM


AIB Roast Case

All India Bakchod (AIB) was a popular comedy group which disbanded in 2019 due to various controversies that came to light during the #MeToo Movement. In 2015, AIB held a roast (a comedy event where a celebrity is mocked) involving Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in a stadium in December 2014 and later uploaded the video on YouTube. After a police complaint in Pune, the group took down the YouTube video.

Advocate Abha Singh, who is has been a Womens’ Rights crusader, observed that the Roast, which was being circulated on public platforms, reeked of misogyny. She said in her press statement that the show was 'pre-scripted' and ‘vulgar’, ‘obscene’ and ‘pornographic’. She also raised the issue in her Complaint that the AIB Roast could not be justified under the argument of ‘Free Speech’ because the current law does not allow for such obscene speech. Such obscenity vitiates the sense of decency and decorum that exists in a society.

Initially, the police at Tardeo Police Station refused to register the FIR against the 14 people that took part in the roast. This included actors Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar. The FIR was registered only after Advocate Abha Singh arrived at the Tardeo Police Station, armed with a Court Order, asking the police to file an FIR. The Police were left with no choice but to register a case.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 3/31/2020 12:00:00 AM


Right to Dissent PIL

In April, 2018, the Mumbai Police had denied Advocate Abha Singh the use of loud speakers at her Carter Road agitation for the Kathua rape victim in Jammu. Viewing this as a violation of her fundamental right to protest under Article 19, she filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court against such unlawful denial of permission by the Police.

The Bombay High Court agreed with Advocate Abha Singh’s submissions and said that demonstrations and dissent are the backbone of a democracy. The court held that the “use of loudspeaker is permissible within city limits subject to applicable decibel limits and timings stipulated by rules” including the Noise Pollution Rules and the Petitioner will have the right to use loudspeakers in accordance with the law and relevant rules.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 3/31/2020 12:00:00 AM


Basement PIL (Dosti Acres Landslide)

In June, 2018, a landslide took place in the Dosti Acres compound, a housing complex in Wadala, during the monsoon. The cause of the landslide was the excessive excavation done by the Builder for the basement of the building. Considering the damage caused by the Dosti Acres incident, and the threat posed by indiscriminate excavations for basements, Advocate Abha Singh filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court.

 

In the PIL she challenged an Amendment made to the Development Control Regulation (DCR) Rules in 2012 to allow multi-level basement parking. The Amendment allowed the developer to not only have up to five floors of basement parking, but also to utilise the entire plot for it. As a result, the developer dug the entire plot, leaving a paltry 1.5 metre wall from the adjoining plot. In the Dosti Acres incident, the wall was not reinforced due to which, when rainwater percolated the ground, the mud below Llyod Estate driveway got dislodged and the landslide occurred.The earlier DCR Rules restricted basement parking to two levels and twice the plinth area. Abha Singh alleged that the BMC made the amendments to the basement law to suit Builders by deleting depth, basement area and open space limits.

 

In response to the PIL, the Bombay High Court issued notices to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Urban Development department for unconstitutional amendments to the Basement Rules, which led to the Dosti Acres landslide. The Bombay High Court directed that a panel be constituted to implement the suggestions made by IIT Bombay after a study on the collapse.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 3/31/2020 12:00:00 AM


Disability PIL

Moved by the prevailing indifference towards the rights of the disabled, Advocate Abha Singh filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court over the lack of wheelchair access and other facilities for the disabled in buildings in Mumbai. Abha Singh asserted that establishments flouting disability rights cannot be issued a Completion Certificate according to Rule 41 of the Development Control Regulations for Greater Bombay (1991) and provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016), which mandate that all public and private establishments must have accessible facilities to ensure participation of disabled persons in community life.

The PIL had reverberating effects as buildings were compelled to provide disabled persons with the necessary facilities. Various restaurants, hotels, ATM’s, etc across the city installed ramps for the disabled in the aftermath of this PIL, which has resulted in making the city more inclusive and disabled friendly.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 3/31/2020 12:00:00 AM


Pancham Pyao Demolition Case

The BMC was set out to demolish the Puncham Pyao opposite Bombay Gymkhana. For decades the Puncham Pyao water fountain has satisfied the thirst of the pedestrians and provided the citizens with great relief. The BMC wanted to relocate it as it considered it to be an obstruction on the footpath.

Advocate Abha Singh, representing the Pancham NGO, told the Court that as per the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee Report, Puncham Pyao is not the only structure obstructing the pedestrians. The report mentions the removal/relocation of all these structures, but BMC was only relocating Pancham Pyao and not the rest. This was an arbitrary exercise of authority of the BMC.

Upon hearing these arguments, the court passed an order restraining the BMC from demolishing Pancham Pyao and the citizens continue to quench their thirst free of cost.



Publised by Abha Singh | Tag: 3/31/2020 12:00:00 AM