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Criminal Law

Inquiry into the Complaints of Sexual Harassment

What is the meaning of sexual harassment at workplace in India? With globalisation bringing bigger workforce of women in India, sexual provocation at work environment has been increasing. Let's discuss the procedure to be followed by the Inquiry committee into the complaint of sexual harassment.
Written by:
Mehak Sharma
Published on
07-Jun-19

Sexual Harassment at workplace is a type of disrespect to the women of the society who dares to move out of their house to support their family, which also disregards their basic fundamental rights enshrined under Article, 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Sexual abuse at the workplace not just makes women scared or threatened at the workplace but also blocks their ability and self-confidence to work or to present themselves in this challenging world. Apart from shaking their self-confidence at work, it also unfavorably influences their social and personal life and puts them through a mental misery.

The Indian Legislature’s first enactment towards promoting safer work environment for women at workplace is the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 ("POSH Act")  which was instituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, India in 2013.

The Definition of Sexual Harassment

As per the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013, Sexual harassment incorporates any or at least one of the following acts or conduct  to be specific:

1. Physical contact and advances; or

2. An interest or request for sexual favours; or

3. Making sexually coloured comments; or

4. Showing Pornography

5. Some other unwelcome physical, verbal or nonverbal direct of sexual nature.

Any Act falling under the domain of the following cases will be considered as an occurrence of sexual harassment :

a) When unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and verbal or physical direct of a sexual sort are, certainly or unequivocally, made a term or state of educating/direction, work, interest, or assessment of an individual's commitment in any movement.

b) When unwelcome sexual advances, and verbal, non-verbal and additionally physical direct, for example, sexual remarks, comments or jokes, letters, telephone calls or messages, signals, presentation of sex entertainment, staring constantly, physical contact, stalking, sounds or show of an injurious sort.

c) Interfering with her work or making a scary, hostile, or threatening condition for her.

d) When an individual uses the body or any piece of it or any article as an expansion of the body with a sexual reason in connection to someone else without the one’s assent or against that individual's will, such will add up to sexual attack.

e) When an individual demonstrates any sexual advances or shows treatment to women that is probably going to influence her wellbeing and security.

 

Internal Complaint Committee

Objectives 

The main aim of the Internal Complaint Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace are as per the following:

  • To build up a defense against sexual provocation of ladies at the workplace

  • To develop a long-lasting redressal mechanism which will fight against the sexual abuse cases and remove the discrimination based on sex at the workplace.

  • To guarantee the safety of the women at the workplace by announcing various policies that will govern the offenses under the Act.

  • To maintain the responsibility of the workplace to give a hassle-free environment which is not discriminating on the basis of sex. To make a safe physical and social condition to stop any happening of sexual badgering.

  • To advance a social and mental condition to bring issues to light on sexual harassment in its different form.

Constitution of the Internal Committee

The Committee will comprise of the following nine individuals, who will be named by the Director asunder, in particular:

1. A senior female Faculty part from the committee, as the Chairperson.

2. Two Faculty members(one female and one male).

3. Two Staff individuals (one female and one male from Group 'B' and 'C').

4. Three Ph.D. understudies (two females and one male).

5. One woman from outside the committee (ideally legal counselor by calling or from NGO focused on the reason for ladies or acquainted with issues identified with sexual badgering)

6. In any event, one of the individuals will be a lady having a place with the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes or  Other Backward Classes or minority network informed by the Central Government, every now and then

7. The term of every part will be of three years

8. The past committee individuals will proceed till the new committee is comprised toward the finish of three years term.

Disqualification

No person shall continue to be a member of the committee in the event that he/she is

1. Pronounced at insolvent out by the Court;

2. Unsound mind or an individual of unsound personality;

3. Held liable for an offense including moral turpitude;

4. Associated with an unfortunate event.;

5. Sentenced in any criminal offense/s;

Power and Duties of the Committee

The main duty of the committee is to make decisions and frame policies to protect the victims of sexual harassment at the workplace and also to provide for a safer work environment where they are not under any pressure and their growth is not limited to their gender. The main powers and the duties of the committee are as follows:

A. Preventive

1. To make and guarantee a safe and protected environment that is free of sexual harassment, including protection from people/guests coming into contact at the work environment.

2. To promote the approach in English, Hindi, and Marathi broadly, particularly through notice sheets.

3. To promote in English, Hindi, and Marathi, the names and telephone quantities of individuals from the Committee.

B. Sex Sensitization

Sex Sensitization includes spreading awareness about issues of sex and sexuality and progressing in the direction of and making an empowering domain of sex equality where all can mutually have a feeling of individual security and pride. Awareness will be an essential duty of the Committee. Strategies to raise awareness:

1. A direction policy will be framed to examine the nature and extent of the sexual harassment of women at the work environment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.

2. At least one workshops/classes every year where specialists from outside will come and spread the knowledge regarding the matter among all representatives and workers.

3. Courses, exhibitions and discussion meetings where sexual orientation refinement and sex awareness will be the center – these will occur twice a year.

C. Remedy

1. To provide for a disciplinary activity for any grievance enlisted with the Committee after the inquiry to the Director/organisation/or concerned experts and to have follow-up activity.

2. To prescribe Institute or the organisation to give help to the complainant on the off chance that she can file a complaint or grievance in connection to the offense under the Indian Penal Code.

3. To prescribe the Institute to provide for adequate protection with the assent of the complainant or even without assent in such situations where the complainant is physically or rationally not in a position to give her assent.

4. To advise the organisation to mastermind suitable mental, enthusiastic, and physical help (through guiding, security and other help) to the person in question in the event that she so wants.

The Inquiry Process

Once the complainant files a complaint with the authorities, it has to be handled by the committee in a non-negligent manner to provide for the justice within the time period of 90 days.

1. Within five days of the beginning of the inquiry procedure, the Inquiry Committee will give a duplicate of the complaint to the accused and complainant alongside a composed notice requiring the two to be present when required for the inquiry and submit the answers to the questions raised by the committee.

2. Within seven days, the two-party will submit to the Inquiry Committee their answers to the archives that have been served on them. The answers may likewise incorporate inquiries that the parties wish the Enquiry Committee to ask the other party or its observers.

3. Within a week of the receipt of the answers and the procedure of inquiry in (2) is over, the Enquiry Committee will begin the procedure of an oral hearing.

4. During the process of the oral hearing, the complainant, the accused, and their observers will independently be allowed to give a record of the grievance occurred.

5. All the parties can likewise present any narrative proof at the time of the oral hearing.

6. The Enquiry Committee will have the ability to entertain as many inquiries to gain all the information relating to the offense that has been committed.

7. The Enquiry Committee will impose inquiries which have been put together by the complainant and litigant for different parties.

8. The Enquiry Committee may likewise call upon extra observers and ask them any inquiries that it might be useful and related to the matter.

9. The Enquiry Committee will have the ability to approach the specialists for any official papers or reports relating to the complainant just as the charged.

10. The Enquiry Committee will lead the procedures in a reasonable way and will give a fair opportunity to the complainant and accused of exhibiting and protecting his/her case.

11. At no time, during the request procedures will the accused and the complainant be set up close and personal, or put in a circumstance where they might be eye to eye.

12. The Enquiry Committee may consider as applicable any previous charges or complaints against the accused.

14. Legal counselors are not permitted during the inquiry but they can use the report of the inquiry in the further lawsuit.