Employers failing to constitute panel on sexual harassment face up to Rs50,000 fine

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started collecting data under the category of insult to the modesty of women (section 509 of IPC) at office premises since 2014. So far, a total of 57 cases were registered and 47 persons were criminally charged, out of which 2 person are convicted during 2014.

This is so because the government is vested with the responsibility of implementing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of, minister for women and child development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi informed the Lok Sabha in a reply to a question on Monday.

The Act mandates that all the workplaces, which include any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit, which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate government or the local authority or a government company or a corporation or a co-operative society having more than 10 workers to constitute Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) for receiving complaints of sexual harassment.

If any employer fails to constitute an Internal Complaint Committee, or contravenes or attempts or abets contravention of other provisions of this Act or any rules made thereunder, he or she shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.

The ministry of women and child development had, on 23 December 2013 and 27 October 2014, issued advisories to governments of all states and union territories to ensure effective implementation of the Act. The ministries/departments of the central government have also been advised to ensure compliance of the Act.

Further, the ministry of corporate affairs along with the industry bodies, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Society, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), and National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) have been requested to ensure effective implementation of the Act amongst their members in the private sector.