Gender Neutrality and Sexual Harassment Laws in India: A societal issue

Reading time : 8 minutes


India is known for its male-dominated culture where women are considered inferior to men and due to such kind of culture, women become prey to all kinds of atrocities, harassment, abuse of men. To protect women from all kind of abuse and harassment and to elevated women equal to men, numbers laws like. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 etc. policies and the reform made by the state and all those laws and policies are proved in favour of women. However there is says that Gives too much protection and power to the person will going to spoil him. The same thing happens with women. Taking advantage of the law, women started harassing men either in the name of a false case of dowry, or rape etc. There is a perception that men only harass, abuse women sexually but now the situation is not the same. In the last few years, multiple cases come in the limelight where women are seen harassing sexually the men. However, no single cases were registered against the women in the absence of any law which can protect the men against such abuse and harassment.


In Rajasthan, a case was registered against the 11 women rape men for continually12 days. When men approached the police station for lodging the FIR against these women for committing rape. Police refused to register the FIR in the absence of law which penalized the women for such an act. If someone closely analyses section 376 of the Indian Penal Code one can find that the word Rape is the women- centric word. According to section 376 of IPC, rape is an offence which can be committed only against the women and not men. Similarly, according to section 354 of IPC, men only can outrage the modesty of women. The above-mentioned section shows that only women can be the victim of rape or sexual harassment. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) is another women-centric law which laid the provisions to protect the women

from sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the survey conducted by the Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed, reported being coerced or forced to have sexual intercourse at workplaces. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator. These figures indicate only one aspect of sexual harassment, i.e. demanding sexual favours, at the workplace. Other forms of sexual harassment under the POSH Act including showing pornography, making sexually coloured remarks and other unwelcome physical or verbal comments and actions against male employees can however never be tabulated.1 This because there is no specific law in India which deal with such an issue. This indicates that the need for amendment in Criminal law and need to enact the law which can protect men and third gender from sexual harassment in the workplace.


  • Part III of the Indian Constitution ensure that every citizen must get all the fundamental rights enshrined in this part irrespective of sex, gender, religion etc. Following are the provision enshrined in the part which throw the light on the need for Gender-neutral laws. They are as follow.
  • Article 14 of the Indian constitution used two expressions that is equality before the law and equal protection of the law. These expressions are the core stone of any law. Absence of the spirit of this two expression makes a law arbitrary. For instance, POSH though made to protect the women from sexual harassment however exclude the men and third gender from its ambit which is a clear negation of these expressions.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits the state to discriminate any citizen on the grounds of sex, gender, religion, cast etc.
  • Article 19 (a)(1) of the Constitution: This article gives freedom to the citizen to freely express their thought, belief etc. In India, there is a perception that men can’t be the victim of sexual abuse, assault or harassed. This kind of thinking restraint the men to raise his voice against such an act. Also due to the lack of legal framework against such acts men are not able to complain about such acts. This show that due to fear of stigma and lack of legal framework against such


Men restraint themselves to raise the voice against such injustice is a clear violation of the men right under this Article.

  • Article 21 which provide that every person has a right to be heard. In India, there is no single law which can also recognize sexual harassment as an offence against men too. Due to this court also refused to entertain such case which violates the right of men to be heard.


The International Labour Organisation is a United Nations agency for promotion of social justice and ensure safe work environment by setting labour law standards. ILO has recently formalised “Convention on Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Workplace, 2019” at the 108th International Labour Conference on 21st June 20192. It defines gender-based violence and harassment at workplace”, as affecting all working individuals irrespective of their sex.3 It mandates that all UN member states need to formulate their labour laws based on the abovementioned mandate.4 Currently India has not ratified this convention.


Recently, a bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha which seeks to make all sexual offences gender- neutral. The bill proposes amendments in Criminal Laws[xIv] to ensure that the words “any man” and “any woman” in the sections relating to sexual offences in the laws are changed to read as “any person”.5 By changing the definition of the perpetrator and victim of sexual assault from “man” and “woman” to “any person”, the bill transcends from the traditional and outdated role of men and women as assaulter and victim.6 Furthermore According to UGC regulations, under the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, 21st June 2019,108th International Labour Organisation Conference. Article 2, Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 & Article 9, Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, (Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act)


Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, recognizes all genders under the ambit of “aggrieved party”. The regulations do not use the term “aggrieved woman” and only refer to either “aggrieved person” or an “aggrieved party. Also The regulations mandate a primary responsibility on all Educational Institutions to “act decisively against all gender-based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes.


  1. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution ensures that every person must get social, economical, political irrespective of gender, sex, caste, religion and also ensure equality of status in the society. Keeping in the mind of these great principles, the time has come where the legislature has to enact the laws which can protect all gender and sex from sexual harassment of all kinds. Also, there is a need to amend the definition of rape by replacing the word women from any person.
  2. Also there is a need to amend the POSH Act. One of the most primary actions to be taken in this regard is changing its name to “The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act”


  1. UGC      Issues      Guidelines     For      Male      Students      To       File      Sexual      Harassment               Complaints. complaints-256582.html.
  2. Gender Neutrality & Sexual Harassment Laws In India labour-relations/988146/gender-neutrality-sexual-harassment-laws-in-india-an- overview#:~:text=The%20amendment%20brought%20to%20the,Section%20375%20%26%20376%20(Rape%20
  3. Why India Inc. needs to protect Men against Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India- case for gender neutral policies in-india-case-for-gender-neutral-policies/.

Author: Eesha Mishra

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

Legality of Parallel imports in India

Reading time : 12 minutes


Parallel imports basically refer to the genuine and legitimately acquired goods from the respective rights holder and thereafter sold at lower prices through trade channels which are legally [1]unauthorized. Consequently, these goods may be sold in the same market or a different market depending upon various situations. Taking India into regard, Parallel importation finds itself linked to the Principle of Exhaustion of Rights under the Trademark Act 1999 where each state is entitled to allow or prohibit parallel imports within its own legal framework. Since Parallel Importation is basically a trade practice so it is regulated under Intellectual Property Law as well as Competition Law. Firstly with regard to Trademark Law, parallel importation significantly affects the rights of a manufacturer or trader as trademarks allow traders to earn goodwill and to protect their commercial reputation. It is very well understood that parallel importers commence and undertake their activities for money since parallel importation occurs as a result of currency rate fluctuations and tax rate and scale differences which ultimately allows goods to be resold after a significant profit margin when sold at more expensive and lucrative markets. This also happens to be the main reason as to why Parallel Imports are generally referred to as ‘Grey Market Areas’ since the goods are genuine but the trade channels through which these goods pass through are definitely not.


Parallel importation can be defined as ‘the importation of goods outside the distribution channels contractually negotiated by the manufacturer.’1 This Concept can be explained in a simplified manner. Suppose, Mr. S is an importer in India. A hypothetical product, for instance, a book, is available for sale in India for Rs. 4000, but the same is available for sale in Bangladesh for Rs. 1,600. Mr. S imports the said book from Bangladesh from a different distribution channel from the one originally negotiated in the contract and sells it at a profit margin in India. The example above shows the fundamental concept of parallel imports. However, from a legal point of view, the concept itself is far from simple. In order to analyse the term “parallel importation” from a legal point of view, it is imperative that the concept of Exhaustion of Intellectual Property Rights, is known.

Principle of Exhaustion of Intellectual Property Rights:

The exhaustion of intellectual property rights constitutes one of the limits of Intellectual Property Rights. Once a given product has been sold under the authorization of the IP owner, the reselling, rental, lending and other third party commercial uses of IP-protected goods in domestic and international markets is governed by the principle.[2]

After a product is covered by an IP right, such as by a patent right, has been sold by the IP right owner or by others with the consent of the owner, the IP right is said to be exhausted. It can no longer be exercised by the owner. This limitation is also referred to as the Exhaustion Doctrine or First Sale Doctrine. For example, if an inventor accepts a new form of patent, the inventor (or someone else to whom his patent is sold) can technically prevent other businesses from making and distributing such a parable.  Nevertheless, buyers who obtained it from the patent proprietor cannot be prevented from engaging in the re-sale of the product to third parties. The same goes for patents for software technology. If the patent holders, for example via Microsoft through GitHub, redistributes a piece of software with a proprietary algorithm, the patent shall be exhausted. It is clearly understood that ‘Exhaustion’ refers to a ‘limit’ or ‘constraint’ of intellectual property in relation to the selling of a commodity. Also previously referred to as the First Sale Doctrine. The principle that the purchaser of a product “A” (the name/logo by which the good is marked) loses control over the potential sale of the products exhausts the exclusive right of the brand owner to sale that good, whether by further selling, renting, etc.

The Indian Legal System on Parallel Imports:

As already stated, Parallel Imports come under the purview of the Principle of Exhaustion of Rights under the Trademarks Act, 1999. The principle of exhaustion of rights is stated in Article 6 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which states that “nothing in this Agreement shall be used to address the issue of the exhaustion of intellectual property rights”. Hence, each state is entitled either to prohibit or to allow parallel imports within its own legal system. Two major concerns that are often debated in the context of parallel importation and trademarks in India are whether parallel importation amounts to infringement under Section 29 of the Trademarks Act and whether India recognises the principle of international exhaustion of rights under Section 30 of the Trademarks Act.

Cisco Technologies v Shrikanth 2006 (31) PTC 538 was one of the first cases involving parallel import and trademark law in India, in which the Delhi High Court issued an ex-parte injunction in favour of the appellant and prohibited the defendant from importing computer hardware and hardware parts under the trademark CISCO (which was registered in India). The appellant claimed that: “CISCO products such as routers and switches are mission and human critical hardware components used in network infrastructure; that the product of the Plaintiff is used in critical networks such as railways, air-traffic control, hospitals, air defences etc.; that malfunctioning/failure of the product of the Plaintiff would result in huge losses due to failure of these networks; that keeping in view the critical importance of the product in question, it becomes imperative to ensure that neither counterfeit sales nor sales by misrepresentation take place… and that public interest has to be kept in mind while determining the issue whether ex-pare ad interim relief should flow to the Plaintiff at this stage.” [3]

Accepting the plaintiff’s arguments, the court also observed: “It is the obligation of all statutory and governmental authorities to ensure that laws are not violated by any person in this country. For persons who hold benefit of registered trademarks, Section 140 of the Trade Mark Act, 1999 makes statutory provisions where under the Collector of Customs could prohibit the importation of goods if the import thereof would infringe Section 29(vi)(c) of the Trade Marks Act. I see no reason why the statutory authorities should not prohibit import of such products, import whereof would result or abet in the violation of the proprietary interest of a person in a trademark/trade name.” 3

In the case of M/S General Electric Company v Altamas Khan General Electric the prosecution argued, amongst other things, that the defendants’ import of its genuine products into a territory for which they were not intended violated its trademark and caused it loss. It further argued that the illegal sale caused it loss of reputation, in so far as purchasers that were unable to claim warranty or avail of an aftercare service would likely blame it or hold it responsible. The Delhi High Court found the defendants liable for infringement.

Section 30(4) of the Trademarks Act requires the trademark owner to regulate the flow of products where there are valid grounds for objecting to further trading in goods – in fact where their condition is altered or damaged after they have been introduced on the market. The Delhi High Court Division Bench has narrowly interpreted ‘legitimate grounds’ to include discrepancies in Services and Warranties; Advertising and Promotional efforts; Packaging; Quality Control, Pricing and Presentation and Language of the Product Literature. In India, the only situations under which the owner of a trademark can challenge or ban illegal parallel imports and plead violation under the Trademarks Act are those under which the products have either not been legitimately acquired or have been altered or substantially modified after they have been acquired. Consequently, following the international exhaustion of rights regime, it is not necessary for the parallel importer to show that the owner of the trade mark has either explicitly or indirectly consented to parallel imports. Perhaps the only pressure on the parallel importer is on the consistency and protection of the goods. However, the importer must establish that the products in question have been put on the market globally with or with the consent of the trademark holders, and that they have since been legitimately purchased.

Consequences of Parallel Imports on the Economy and the State:

Parallel Importation has two sided effects which include legal consequences and economic consequences. In an Economic perspective, it promotes a greater availability of trademark good at lower prices and at the same time prevents the establishment of trade monopoly. In the absence of cheaper alternatives, consumers would be forced to purchase goods at the price set by the monopolist and this would have an adverse effect on the market as well as on supply and demand. In a legal perspective it is extremely important to prevent such kind of confusion among the consumers where they are confused about the quality and source of the products they wish to consume and also to protect the economic interests of the trademark owners.  The positive impact of parallel imports is that they force prices down and provide consumers with goods at lower prices. Parallel imports help avoid trademark holders from practicing their preferential right to divide markets and thus to promote free trade subject to the doctrine of exhaustion followed in the particular country. The negative effect is that the sales arrangements of the seller and the opportunity to control the quality of the trademarked products are restricted. Around the same time, parallel imports are also used as a tactic to cash in on the prestige and goodwill of the trademark owner; this may lead to an action to be taken.

Although customers may benefit from cheaper costs for trademarked products, parallel imports do not inherently guarantee quality assurance or aftercare and may thus result in market disappointment and harm to the credibility and goodwill of the trademark. In a more realistic basis, though, as an end-user, the customer has the ultimate preference and the ultimate winner of parallel exchange. Most buyers would only buy an Apple or Sony device from registered distributors and would be aware of the consequences if they did otherwise. Similarly, in the case of pharmaceuticals, customers will usually exercise extra vigilance and buy the same items from reputable distributors, or hospitals.


In India, the only situations under which the owner of a trademark can challenge or ban illegal parallel imports and plead violation under the Trademarks Act are those under which the products have either not been legitimately acquired or have been altered or substantially modified after they have been acquired. Under Indian trademark law, trademark owners can take legal action only against traders dealing in goods that compromise the goodwill, reputation or quality of the trademark. Parallel importation acts as a reasonable limitation to the trademark owner’s exclusive rights to use the mark in relation to the items for which it has been registered. The decision on whether to allow parallel importation is ultimately a choice between quality control and price control; between the economic rights of trademark owners and consumer access; between trade monopolies and free trade. In the trademark context, parallel importation in no way compromises the trademark owner’s right to sue for infringement, passing off or falsification of its marks. In this sense, by following the principle of international exhaustion of rights, Indian law not only safeguards the reputational assets of a trademark, but also ensures free trade, as mandated by, by eliminating the monopolistic tendencies of profit driven trademark owners.



[3] Cisco Technologies v. Shrikanth, 2006 (31); PTC 538

Author: Aabir Shoaib, Chandigarh university.

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

Decoding Brexit: What’s in it for India?

Reading time: 5-6 minutes.

Boris Johnson, the UK’s new Prime Minister will be dealing with a lot of issues left over by his predecessor, Theresa May. May was forced to resign after the UK’s lawmakers rejected to ratify the Brexit deal that she secured with the EU three times and also failed to agree on any alternative outcome.

At a glance, Johnson’s Brexit plan is simpler than May’s: Get a new agreement with the EU or crash out on October 31 with no deal. Given that the EU has said numerous times that May’s deal, formally known at the Withdrawal Agreement, is not open for negotiation, no deal seems on the cards.

When Parliament returns from its summer holiday on September 3, Johnson could well face a motion of no confidence in his government. It’s a vote that Johnson and his team can’t expect to win. He currently has a parliamentary majority of just one and some of his own Conservative lawmakers have implied they will put blocking no deal ahead of party loyalty.

But why is Britain willing to leave EU in the first place?

Brexit is the abbreviation of the term “Brtiish Exit” from the European Union. It mirrors the term Grexit, a term which was coined and used to refer to the possible exit of Greece from the EU. Britain decided to leave the EU after the result of the referendum which stated that 51.9% of the voters favoured exit of Britain.

A referendum denotes voting in which everyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no; answer to a question. After growing calls from many MPs of the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the referendum was finally held on June 23, 2016. A similar referendum was held in 1975 in which 67% of the voters voted to stay in the EU.

While there is no specific reason why Britain took this decision, people who voted for leaving the EU argued that it was necessary to protect the country’s identity, its culture, independence and its place in the world. They essentially were opposed to immigration of people into Britain for work related purpose. The Eurozone crisis added to their resentment.

Which international law is involved in Brexit?

Article 50 is a clause in the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty that outlines the steps to be taken by a country seeking to leave the Union voluntarily. Invoking Article 50 kick-starts the formal exit process and serves as a way for countries to officially declare their intention to leave the EU.

The procedure applies to each of the 28 nations of the EU; “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements’. The first step along the road to departure is for the departing Member State to notify the European Council of its intention to do so. The UK did this on 29th March 2017, after the assent of 498 MPs in the House of Commons. The next step was for the EU to negotiate and conclude a Withdrawal Agreement with the departing state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal.

What can be Brexit’s repercussions on Indian economy?

Brexit was one of the biggest global macroeconomic events in June 2016. The decision of Britain shook markets worldwide and had a major economic impact. This was clearly reflected in rebound the Indian stock markets showed post referendum results.

The UK has been an attractive centre of business and international finance due to its strong legal system and contract enforcement practice. India is one of the top investors with UK on account of UK being part of the European Union. With its strong investment climate and relationship with EU, it was considered the gateway to do business in Europe.

Many Indian companies like Rolta, Tata Steel, Bharti Airtel Ltd (UK) have set up operations in the UK and derive revenue from European operations. A no-deal Brexit is likely to cause some disruption in the operations and may also cost a few jobs. Jaguar Land Rover plc, owned by Tata Motors ltd. plans to eliminate 4,500 jobs in response to sales slowdown caused by Brexit and slowing Chinese demand.

Indian companies would need to recalibrate European operations, like setting up an additional operating company within European Union. This means short term disruptions will have a financial impact, as also take up management time. Similarly, Indian companies who have used London as their base to raise capital abroad may face issues and may need to work harder on the process.

Given that this risk has been around for a while, Indian investments in 2017 were at the highest level since 2008. This is partly driven by the depreciation of GBP (British pound sterling) against the rupee post the Brexit vote. Indian companies will need to focus on their merger and acquisition deal efforts across Europe while tackling the British market.

India would also need to negotiate a free trade deal with the UK as it proposes to retain the same goods and services schedules post Brexit. The concessions agreed upon by WTO members’ prior to Brexit may not hold the same value once Brexit happens.

All the additional costs and tariffs agreed upon may need to be rescheduled. India exports around USD 9.6 billion worth of goods and services to the UK. Though there may be other factors looming, Brexit may be another reason why the trade surplus of USD 4.6 billion in 2017 almost dropped by half to USD 2.5 billion in 2018.

The road ahead…

India sees the British exit as an opportunity to expand its trade and economic relations with the UK. British and Indian officials have been signalling that Brexit will make the conclusion of a bilateral free trade pact much easier. This is because Brexit provides a fresh opportunity to India to strengthen its economic relationship with the UK through an India-UK trade and investment agreement.

On the other side, a no deal Brexit and the uncertainty it produces would have many adverse impacts on the Indian economy in general and Indian businesses in the UK in particular. For instance, at present, roughly 800 Indian companies operate in the UK. The UK serves as an entry point for many Indian companies to the European market. A disorderly British exit would shut the direct access of these companies to the EU market. That may force some of the companies to relocate or shut down their businesses.

Finally, the doubt of a no deal scenario and risk aversion tendencies across markets can further depreciate the already fragile rupee. Economists note that the US Dollar would be the only currency that benefits from a hard Brexit and the subsequent uncertainty in global markets. Such an outcome will not only affect the pound sterling but the currencies of emerging markets as well, including the Indian rupee.

A no deal scenario will, therefore, have an adverse impact in the short term. However, in the longer run, Brexit is expected to provide an opportunity to India to reset its trade and economic relations with the UK and the EU.

-This article is brought to you in collaboration with Shivaang Maheshwari from Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.

All You Need to Know About the Kulbhushan Jadhav Verdict

Reading time: 3-4 minutes.

Kulbhushan Jadhav is an Indian name that has been in vogue in the international arena for about 3 years now. International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced its verdict on the Jadhav case today (17th July) in India’s favour. This event raises several questions in our minds like what is the background of this issue? What does the judgement mean? Is Jadhav safe now? This post is an attempt to address these doubts.

Where, how and when did it all start?

Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former officer of the Indian navy. In March 2016, he was arrested by Pakistani agencies which accused him of being “an Indian spy”. They formally informed India about the arrest a few days later. Acting according to international customs, India demanded consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan denied 16 such requests.

Consular access, in essence, means the ability of people to have access to embassy officials of their own country in a foreign nation. The Veinna Convention of 1963 (of which Pakistan is a signatory) allows foreign nationals who are arrested or detained in host countries to have such access. This enables the arrested persons to get legal assistance. By denying the same, Pakistan violated International Law.

Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan, Pakistan. However, India has firmly maintained that he was detained in Iran while on a personal business there. Fast forward to April 2017, a Pakistani military court conducted his trial in ambiguous circumstances and sentenced him to death. Jadhav was found guilty of espionage (gathering confidential information through illicit means) and sabotage (interfering with the national defence of a country).   

What steps did India take to protect its citizen?

India approached ICJ promptly in May 2017 and denied Pakistani claims about Jadhav being a spy. India termed it an “imaginary lie” and asked ICJ to issue an order to Pakistan to release Jadhav. The main argument was that Pakistan denied consular access to Jadhav during his trial and awarded him a death sentence.

India demanded that Pakistan should not be allowed to try Jadhav again even after granting consular access because Pakistani military courts “do not satisfy the standards of due process”. In response to these submissions, Pakistan stated that “Vienna Convention does not apply to spies”. ICJ evaluated all such arguments and gave its judgement in favour of India, which we shall now discuss.

What is the verdict of ICJ?

Salient features of the judgement are:

  • There will be review and reconsideration of death sentence awarded to Jadhav by the military court.
  • India will have consular access to Jadhav. It means that he can be provided with legal assistance.
  • Jadhav won’t be released, but he will get a fair trail as per the constitution of Pakistan.

What is the probable future for Jadhav?

It is clear that Jadhav won’t be released by Pakistan any time soon. However, it is a great relief that ICJ has directed Pakistan to suspend and review his death sentence. He will also get legal assistance from India which means that he has a greater chance of coming home now than earlier.

Renowned Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who fought the tough legal battle for India at ICJ, has stated that Jadhav will be informed about his legal rights. Salve also assured Indians that Jadhav won’t be executed. These developments are definitely a ray of hope for India and we are confident that justice will prevail.