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Internal Complaints Committee under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013

This Article is on the few important points on the applicability of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013 and the importance of constituting the Internal Complaints Committee. A Brief description of disposal of Complaints will be Articulated in other Article.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013 is established to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

WHEREAS sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business with includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment;

AND WHEREAS it is expedient to make provisions for giving effect to the Convention for protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace.

(1) No woman shall be subjected to sexual harassment at any workplace.

(2) The following circumstances, among other circumstances, if it occurs, or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behavior of sexual harassment may amount to sexual harassment:—

(i) implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment; or

(ii) implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment ; or

(iii) implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or

(iv) interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or

(v) humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

The Act provides for mandatory Constitution of Complaints Committee:

1. Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee:- Every organisation in which 10 or more employees are employed are required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee.

The Committee shall consist of the following members to be nominated by the employer:-

  • A presiding officer who shall be a woman employed at senior level at workplace from amongst the employees (If the organisation doesn’t have any senior level woman employee, the same shall be appointed from the subsidiary company or a woman employed with the same employer in other organisation)
  • At least two members from amongst employees of the organisation committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
  • One member shall be appointed from external of the Organisation. An un related party from amongst non-governmental organisation or associations committed to the cause of the Woman or a person familiar with the issues related to sexual harassment.

2. Term of Members of the Internal Complaints Committee

The Presiding officer and every member of the ICC shall hold office for such period not exceeding 3 years, from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the employer.

1. Where any of the members contravenes any provisions of the Act, or

2. has been convicted for an offence under any law pending against him, or

3. he has been found quilty in any disciplinary proceedings or a disciplinary is pending against such member, or

4. the member has abused his position in office prejudicial to the public interest, such members shall be removed from the Committee and the vacancy so created or any causal shall be filled by fresh nomination.

3. Fees

The external member shall be paid such fees or allowances for holding the proceeding of the Internal Committee, by the employer. The fees shall be Rs. 200 per day for holding the proceeding of the ICC and the reimbursement of travel cost incurred while travelling in train in three tier air condition or air conditioned bus and auto rickshaw or taxi or the actual amount spent by him on travel, whichever is less.

4. Committee to submit an annual report: 

The Committee shall submit in a Calendar Year in such form an annual report and submit the same to the District Officer which shall include the following details:-

1. Number of complaints of sexual harassment received in a year

2. Number of complaints disposed off during the year

3. Number of pending cases for more than ninety days

4. Number of workshops or awareness programme against sexual harassment carried out

5. Nature of action taken by employer or District Officer.

The District Officer shall forward a brief report to the State Government

Employer to include information in annual report

The Employer shall include in its report as per Section 134 of the Companies Act, 2013 the number of cases filed, if any and their disposal in the annual report of the organisation and in case of Firms/Partnerships or any organisation where 10 or more employees are employed the employer shall submit a report to the District Officer.

Penalty for non compliance of the Act

Where an employer fails to constitute an ICC or contravenes any section of the Act or the Rules made thereunder, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Fifty Thousand Rupees or where an employer had previously committed an offence under the Act, he shall be liable to twice the punishment which might be imposed on 1st conviction subject to maximum provided for the same offence.

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