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On 9th December 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force. This statute superseded the Vishaka Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Harassment introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
Some observations on what the Act states:
• Employment rules/service rules should also be amended to include:
• Per law, there should be an IC formed at every branch of the company in the country, where there are more than 10 employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
• IC is also applicable for an all-men branch. As even a lady vendor or a lady visitor to the workplace needs to have the option of raising the complaint.
• IC – can also be headed by a senior male employee in case a senior woman is not available in a particular branch. But in all, there should be 2 women as part of the IC including the 3rd party NGO representative.
• The IC is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days.
• Annual Statutory reporting – as part of the Annual report that every company files, the number of cases reported and action taken should be published.
• A victim has to raise a complaint within 3 months of the incident.
• Sexual harassment at the workplace is a criminal offence as per the changes made in IPC. So a victim can raise a criminal complaint case as well as a case with the ICC and both can run in parallel.