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Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace- Rules

After the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013 received presidential assent on 23rd April, 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Rules, 2013 have  finally been notified in the Gazette of India, Extra ordinary on 9th December, 2013 and the same has come into force on 9th December, 2013.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. This act was introduced in furtherance of the guidelines and norms laid by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan.[1]In the absence of any law in India, the court had formulated effective measures to check the evil of sexual harassment of working women at all work places.

As per the Act, it is compulsory for each employer of a workplace to have an Internal Complaints Committee. This Internal Committee would consist of the following members:

  1. A presiding officer who shall be a woman employed at the senior level at the work place;
  2. Two members from amongst the employees preferably committed to the cause of women or have experience in social work or have legal knowledge and
  3. One member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

The Committee shall be responsible for conducting an inquiry into complaints made by the aggrieved woman and arrive at a conclusion as to whether the allegation against whom the complaint has been filed is proved or not. The Committee shall also make recommendations with respect to the actions that can be taken against the accused person.

By virtue of introducing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013, the Central Government has inter alia laid down the mechanism for the redressal of complaints in an organization.

With respect to the constitution of the Internal Complaint Committee, the rules provides that a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment shall be a person who has expertise on issues relating to sexual harassment and includes a social worker with an experience of at least 5 (five) years in the field of social work or a person who is familiar with labour, service, civil or criminal laws.

The Rules further provide that if the aggrieved person is unable to file the complaint directly on account of mental or physical incapacity a complaint may be filed by a relative, friend, co-worker, officer of the National Commission of Women or State Women Commission or any other person who may have knowledge of the incident as mentioned in the rules in the event of any mental. For any other reason, the complaint may be filed by a person who has knowledge of the incident with her written consent. In the event of death of the aggrieved woman, any other person can file the complaint with the consent of her legal heir.

The Rules further provide the manner in which the inquiry is to be conducted by the Internal Complaints Committee.

During the pendency of the inquiry, the Internal Complaint Committee may on the request of the aggrieved woman recommend the employer to restrain the respondent from reporting or supervising the work performance of the aggrieved woman.

The Committee is also required to prepare an annual report containing details pertaining to:

  • the number of complaints of sexual harassment in the year, number of complaints disposed off or pending in a year;
  • number of workshop conducted by the Employer; and
  • nature of action taken by the employer.

The rules further provide the manner in which workshops and awareness programs are to be organized by an employer of an organization.

If there is any publication or disclosure of the contents of the complaint and the enquiry proceedings by any person, a sum of Rs. 5,000/- shall be imposed as a penalty upon such person

How can Patanjali Associates service you?

In view of the above, we can service you by providing:

  1. Assistance in constituting an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC);
  2. A lady lawyer as member of the Committee;
  3. Assistance in conducting the meetings of ICC to hear the complaints of women employees;
  4. Assistance in creation of documentation/minutes of the meetings etc.;
  5. Assistance in forming inquiry committees to investigate/enquiry of sexual harassment;
  6. Assistance in coordinating and interacting to formulate monitoring mechanisms on the functioning of the ICC;
  7. Assistance in bringing out the final reports concerning sexual harassment issues brought before ICC;
  8. Assistance in preparation of Annual Reports;
  9. Creating a friendly atmosphere at workplace where employees irrespective of genders can work together.

[1] (1997) 6 SCC 241