For women employees, more relief in govt offices

Providing more relief to women who faced sexual harassment at workplace, Government has asked its departments to keep a watch for five years to ensure that they do not face vendetta for filing the complaint.

It has also asked that the victim should not be posted under the Respondent, or any other person where there may be a reasonable ground to believe that she may be subjected to harassment.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued instructions to concerned departments in this regard last week.

The fresh instructions came following a recent meeting chaired by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi where concerns were raised probes in sexual harassment cases are taking unduly long time.

With Gandhi expressing dissatisfaction over the weak implementation of the law, it was also decided that all ministries should furnish a monthly report to the WCD Ministry giving details of number of complaints received, disposed of and action taken in the case.

“It should be ensured that the aggrieved women are not victimised in connection with the complaints filed by them. For a period of five years after a decision in a proven case of sexual harassment, a watch should be kept to ensure that she is not subjected to vendetta,” the office memorandum issued on December 22 said.

In case of any victimisation, the woman employee should submit a representation to the Secretary in the case of Ministries/Departments and head of organization in other cases. These representations should be dealt with sensitivity and a decision on such complaints should be taken within 15 days.

The order reiterated that the inquiry in sexual harassment cases should be completed within one month and in no case should it take more than 90 days as per the limit prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The government had earlier this year made it clear that an officer accused of sexual harassment will not be able to prolong inquiry by citing that the head of panel probing the complaint is junior to him in service.

It also decided that the central government employees accused of sexual harassment can be transferred from their present place or work to another to ensure that they do not influence victims.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 28, 2016)

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