THE Annual Reports published by Central government ministries and departments can no longer ignore instances of sexual harassment and their disposal statistics, a DoPT office memorandum issued last week reiterated. Also, ministries and departments need to furnish a monthly report to the ministry of women and child development giving details of number of sexual harassment complaints, those disposed of and the ones…for which action is taken, said the same OM. The new steps were taken after some expressed concern that the inquiries in such cases were taking unduly long time and those were not documented properly.
An earlier office memorandum dated February 2, 2015 initially said that ministries and departments "shall include in their Annual Reports information related to the number of cases related to sexual harassment in work place and also their disposal". The guidelines regarding prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace come under Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1961.
The modified guidelines issued on December 22, 2016 further said that the inquiry in cases of sexual harassment in government offices should be completed within one month “as far as practicable”, and in no case it should take more than 90 days as per the limit prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Further, it should be ensured that the aggrieved women are not victimized 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. She 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 on this account. In case of any victimization the complainant may submit a representation to the Secretary in the case of Ministries/Departments and Head of the Organization in other cases. These representations should be dealt with sensitivity, in consultation with the Complaints Committee, Ministries/Departments and Head of the Organization in other cases. These representations should be dealt with sensitivity, in consultation with the Complaints Committee, and a decision taken within 15 days of the submission of the same”— the December 22 office memorandum further elaborated.