Months after Prez assent, Govt yet to notify Sexual Harassment Act
New Delhi: Months after the President gave his assent, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is yet to come into force.
The final draft of the rules of the act has been referred to the Ministry of Labour and Employment for examination after Law Ministry officials vetting it raised an issue with an appellate structure, Women & Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said, adding that it would be notified soon.
"We had sent the final draft of the rules to the Law Ministry on November 26. After examining it, officials raised an issue with an appellate structure and now it has been sent to the Labour and Employment Ministry for vetting," she said.
According to the act, the law will come into force the day it is notified by the central government. In this case, it is the Women & Child Development Ministry.
Immediately after the incident of a woman journalist in Tehelka being allegedly assaulted by the magazine`s editor Tarun Tejpal came to the fore, the WCD Ministry wrote to the Law Ministry seeking approval of the rules framed by it.
It also charged the Law Ministry with sitting on the issue for months.
As per the act, sexual harassment cases at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house complaint committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed and repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the law can even lead to cancellation of licence or registration of the organisation.
Sexual harassment, according to the law includes unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.
The law states every organisation should constitute an internal complaints committee which should not have less than two members amongst employees preferably those who have had experience in social work or legal knowledge, one member from non-governmental organisations or associations familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment and should be presided by a senior level woman employee at the workplace. 50 per cent of the nominated members must be women.
An employer can be fined Rs 50,000 in case of violation of his duties under the act.
If the person against whom charges are levelled are proved his service can be terminated whereas in case of a false or malicious complaint, a fine of Rs 500 or 5 per cent of the salary of the complainant will be deducted every month for a year.
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