Bill on sexual harassment at workplace introduced

The government Tuesday introduced in the Lok Sabha a bill aimed at preventing sexual harassment of women at workplace in various forms.

Updated: Dec 07, 2010, 15:43 PM IST

New Delhi: The government Tuesday introduced in
the Lok Sabha a bill aimed at preventing sexual harassment of
women at workplace in various forms, including implied or
overt promise of preferential treatment or threat or
interference in her work through intimidation.

The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at
Workplace Bill, 2010, provides for mandatory setting up an
internal committee by a company or any other institute to
probe a written complaint by an aggrieved person or settle the
matter through conciliation.

Moving the bill, Women and Child Development Minister
Krishna Tirath said the objective was to enact a comprehensive
legislation to provide safe, secure and enabling environment
free from all forms of sexual harassment to every woman,
irrespective of her age or employment status (other than
domestic workers).

It fixes the responsibility on the employer as well as the
District Magistrate or Additional DM or the Collector or
Deputy Collector of every district in the state as a District
Officer and lays down a statutory redressal mechanism.

The proposed legislation makes it incumbent on the
employer to order probe into any complaint and provides for a
fine of Rs 50,000 in case an internal inquiry is not set up by
the employer or attempt is made to contravene the provisions
of the new law.

However, in the case of false or malicious complaint, the
bill provides for action against the complainant in accordance
with service rules and in any other manner in case no service
rules exist.

The "malicious intent or falsehood" on part of the
complainant shall be established after an inquiry in
accordance with the procedure prescribed before any action is
recommended, says the bill introduced amid pandemonium caused
by Opposition in demand for JPC probe into 2G spectrum issue.

But mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide
adequate proof need not attract action against the
complainant, it says.

The bill has identified actions that would come under its
purview as "implied or overt promise of preferential treatment
in her (any woman`s) employment; or implied or overt threat of
detrimental treatment in her employment; or implied or overt
threat about her present or future employment status."

Other cognizable actions are "Conduct of any person which
interferes with her work or creates an intimidating or
offensive or hostile work environment for her; or humiliating
conduct constituting health and safety problems for her."

PTI