An act of Sexual Harassment is a violation of Human Rights of a woman as well as Fundamental Rights which are provided to her Under article 14 and 15 as Right to Equality and under article 21 as Right to live with dignity. To provide protection to women against sexual harassment at workplace and the prohibition, prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment, Government of India made an act “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which came into force on 9 December, 2013.
What do you mean by the word “Sexual Harassment”?
“Sexual Harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behavior –
Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
What is Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)?
To hear and redress complaints/grievances related to sexual harassment, every employer of an organization, employing 10 or more employees, shall constitute a committee at each office or branch to be known as Internal Complaints Committee. Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is a 4-member committee which is chaired by a senior woman employee and 2 members from amongst employees who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge and 1 member from NGO.
What is Local Complaints Committee (LCC)?
A District Officer notified by the government under this act will constitute Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to hear and redress complaints/grievances related to sexual harassment from the unorganized sector or from the organizations where Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) has not been constituted as they have less than 10 employees or when the complaint is against the employer. LCC is a 5-member committee chaired by an eminent women who has knowledge in the field of social work, 1 member from amongst women working in block, taluka or tehsil or ward or municipality in the district, 1 member will be the concerned officer dealing with the social welfare or women and child development shall be an ex officio member, 2 members of whom at least one shall be a woman to be nominated from NGOs or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues related to sexual harassment provided that at least one of the nominees should, preferably have a background in law or legal knowledge.
How to file complaint against Sexual Harassment?
Any aggrieved woman can file a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace in writing within a period of 3 months from the date of incident to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) /Local Complaints Committee (LCC). This period of 3 months can be extended up to further period of 3 months by the ICC/LCC, if there are sufficient grounds to do that.
If an aggrieved woman is unable to file complaint on account of her mental or physical incapacity or death then her legal heir or representative can file complain.
The Internal Complaints Committee or Local Complaints Committee can take steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation at the request of the aggrieved woman but monetary settlement shall not be made as a basis of conciliation.
After conciliation settlement record shall be forwarded to the Employer or District Officer as the case may be, by the Internal Complaints Committee or Local Complaints Committee and settlement copies shall be provided to the aggrieved woman and the respondent.
After receiving settlement record, Employer or District Officer, as the case may be, will take action as recommended by the ICC/LCC.
Inquiry into complaint
If terms and conditions of settlement as mentioned above is not performed by the respondent then ICC/LCC shall proceed to make an inquiry into the complaint or forward the complaint to the police. ICC/LCC is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. For the purpose of making an inquiry under this act ICC/LCC shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
On the completion of inquiry under this act the ICC/LCC shall forward a report of its findings to The Employer or The District Officer and send its copies to the aggrieved woman and the respondent.
The Employer or the District Officer shall take action on this report within a time period of 60 days.