Workplaces with more than 10 employees are required to set up an Internal Complaints Committee that specifically handles cases of sexual harassment. If you face sexual harassment at your workplace, you can submit a written complaint to the Committee.1
The composition of the Committee and the distribution of members is meant to ensure that the investigation is not biased. The members of the Committee2 must include:
- A presiding officer, who is a woman employed at a senior level. If the presiding officer acts in violation of her powers, she will be removed and a new nomination will take place.
- At least two employees, preferably those who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
- One member from a non-government organisation or association committed to the cause of women, or a person familiar with sexual harassment issues. This member will be paid.
At least half of the members of the Committee must be women.
If you feel that the existing Committee is biased, you can request the reconstitution of the Committee on the ground of bias. In this case, you need to establish that there is a real likelihood of bias. Mere apprehension would be insufficient for requesting the reconstitution of the Committee.3
During the investigation, the Committee has to follow certain regulations while making inquiries. If you have filed a complaint accusing another employee, both you and the accused have to be given an opportunity of being heard during the inquiry by the Committee. A copy of the Committee’s findings has to be made available to you and the person you have accused. This enables you to make a representation against the findings before the Committee.4
Within 10 days after completing the inquiry, the Committee has to provide a report of its findings to the employer, and the report will be made available to both the complainant and the accused. The Committee may decide that your sexual harassment allegation against the accused has not been proved.5 If you are not satisfied with this decision due to any reason including bias, you can appeal to the court.6
If you are being sexually harassed at work and you don’t want to approach the Committee fearing bias etc., you also have an option to directly file a criminal complaint with the police.
- Section 9, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Section 4(2), Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Somaya Gupta v Jawaharlal Nehru University, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/36129445/
- Section 11, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Section 13, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Section 18, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
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