3 mons ago
Author: EA DigestCategory : Criminal law
The #Metoo movement is the talking point in the country these days and more and more women are coming up with their accounts of sexual harassment claims. Many of the sectors and industries face this grave problem and victims are gaining confidence to call out the accused. In this light, it is important to know what is termed as sexual harassment and what can you do if you ever face this unfortunate situation. Read on to know more.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The term sexual harassment as defined under Section 2(n) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 means any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:-
- physical contact and advances;
- a demand or request for sexual favours;
- making sexually coloured remarks;
- showing pornography;
- any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
Duties of the Employer
Every employer is responsible for creating a safe and healthy workplace for all its employees and here are some of the duties they must adhere to:-
- Create a safe working environment.
- Display the penal consequences of sexual harassment at the workplace.
- Create awareness by discussion, workshops about the issue.
- Formation of the internal complaints committee.
- Assistance to the internal complaints committee.
- Providing assistance to the victim should they choose to file a complaint.
- Make available all the records, proofs to the internal complaints committee whenever asked.
Internal Complaints Committee and its powers
Section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 makes it mandatory for the employers to create an internal complaints committee by order in writing. Such a committee is required to be established at all the administrative offices in case of multiple outlets.
The committee should consist the following members:-
- A presiding officer who shall be a woman employed at a senior level at the workplace.
- Not less than two members from amongst the employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
- One member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
The internal complaints committee have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which are as follows:-
- To summon and enforce the attendance of any person for hearing under oath.
- Discovery and examination of documents and records.
- Any other matter which may be prescribed.
Apart from the powers mentioned above the internal complaints committee shall also have powers to:-
- Grant leave of up to three months to the victim.
- Grant such other relief to the victim as may be prescribed.
How to file a complaint?
A victim can by herself make a complaint to the committee in writing or can have it done on her behalf from a relative, co-worker, friend or an officer within three months of the incident.
In case such complaint cannot be made in writing, the presiding officer or any member of the internal complaints committee shall render all reasonable assistance to the woman for making the complaint in writing.
Before the initiation of an inquiry, the internal complaints committee may at the request of the aggrieved woman take steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation.
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