Complaints Committee & Complaint Procedure

  • Internal Complaints Committee:
    • The Act makes it mandatory for every employer to constitute an internal complaints committee ("ICC") which entertains the complaints made by any aggrieved women.
    • The members of the ICC are to be nominated by the employer and ICC should consist of
      • a Presiding Officer ,
      • not less than two members from amongst employees preferably committed to the cause or women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge and
    • one member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
    • In order to ensure participation of women employees in the ICC proceedings, the Act requires that at least one-half of the members of ICC nominated by employer are women.
  • Local Complaints Committee:
    • Provisions are provided under the Act to form Local Complaints Committee (LCC) for every district for receiving complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the ICC has not been formed due to having less than 10 workers or if the complaint is against the employer himself.
  • Complaint procedure:
    • The Act stipulates that aggrieved woman can make written complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the ICC or to the LCC (in case a complaint is against the employer), within a period of three months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident.
    • If the aggrieved woman is unable to make complaint in writing, reasonable assistance shall be rendered by the presiding officer or any member of the ICC (or in case the aggrieved woman is unable to make complaint in writing to the LCC, the reasonable assistance shall be rendered by the Chairperson or any member of the LCC) for making the complaint in writing.
    • As per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 , in case the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical incapacity, a complaint may be filed inter alia by her relative or friend or her co-worker or an officer of the National Commission for Woman or State Women's Commission or any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the aggrieved woman.
  • Conclusion
    • Undoubtedly, the guidelines and norms framed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Vishaka Judgment are fountainhead of the Act.
    • With the passage of time, it was felt that guidelines and norms are not sufficient to deal with the incidents of sexual harassment of women at workplaces and a strong piece of legislation is the need of the hour and accordingly the Act was enacted in 2013.
    • The Act went one step ahead and included various issues which remained unaddressed in the past such as extension of the definition of workplace to include almost all types of establishments including private sector organization, dwelling places or houses, inclusion of the term domestic worker and unorganized sector in order to address the issue of sexual harassment of women.