Sexual harassment: Maneka Gandhi to meet officials from ministries over failure to address complaints

New Delhi: Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi will hold a meeting on Wednesday with representatives from three central ministries over charge of failure to address sexual harassment complaints lodged by their women employees.

The heads of Internal Complaints Committees of Railway Ministry, Sports Ministry and Human Resource Development Ministry will meet Gandhi. The move comes after several women employees wrote to the ministry about delay in getting their complaints about sexual harassment resolved.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

"We received a large number of complaints for it to be a cause of concern. 3-4 complaints were sent to Maneka Gandhi directly. Many of these complaints are pending in these ministries for over two years," a senior official said. "One of the complainants is a joint secretary-level officer in the Railway Ministry. When we asked the ICC why they had not taken any action they told us that no complaint had been filed with them even though we have a copy of the complaint," said the official.

"In another case, while there are witnesses to the crime, the complaint had been closed," the official said. The meeting will review redressal mechanisms at each of these ministries, following which a strict guideline will be issued to all government organisations. A similar exercises will be undertaken for the private sector later. The minister had earlier tweeted, "Have called the heads of ICC to make presentations on selected cases of complaints filed by women officials."

"This will enable us to issue strict advisory to all Govt. organisations on how to dispose of complaints in a timely & sensitive manner." "We will then take up the issue of handling these complaints in non-government organisations too." According to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, any organisation with 10 or more employees should have an Internal Complaints Committee to look into cases of sexual harassment.

The inquiry into a complaint from a woman is meant to be completed in 90 days. If an organisation fails to comply with the provisions of the Act, it is liable to pay Rs 50,000 as fine.

Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 15:56 PM

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