WCD frames rules under sexual harassment at workplace act
New Delhi: Sexual harassment at work place may lead to termination of service of the accused, withholding of promotions and increments, and payment of reasonable compensation to the complainant.
These are some of the penal provisions in the rules being drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to implement the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, which came into being in February.
According to the proposed rules, if allegations against the accused turn out to be false and after inquiry, are found to be made with a malicious intent, the complainant may face similar penal provisions as listed for the accused.
The rules suggest the constitution of a local complaints committee which should have a social worker with five years of experience in the relevant field, a person familiar with labour, employment, civil or criminal law.
The district-level child protection society constituted under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) or any other district-level crisis centre for women would provide logistic support for this committee.
Under the `manner of inquiry into the complaint`, the accused will be required to reply along with list of documents and details of witnesses within 10 days of the complaint made and complaints committee in turn will have to conduct a hearing within 10 days of the receipt of accused`s version.
The rules also suggest the committee should ensure that face-to-face encounter of complainant and accused is avoided.
The committee may issue a restraint order warning the accused that any attempt on his part or by persons acting on his behalf to contact or influence or intimidate or exert pressure on the complainant or witnesses may prove prejudicial to his case.
As per the rules, the accused will be provided with a copy of the statement by the committee and if the former does not agree with the statement, opportunity should be given to the accused to refute the allegations.
At no point during the proceedings, either of the parties should be allowed to bring in any legal representative to argue their case.
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