Critical Analysis of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill
- Unlike other countries, there is no provision for protection of men against harassment.
- There is no provision of Suo motto power for ICC/LCC for any serious case of harassment or anything else. Only case will be registered when aggrieved woman/legal heir will file the complaint.
- The Act provides power of civil courts to ICC (Summoning, discovery, production of documents etc.) but there is no person of legal background in composition of ICC as provided under this act. Also act doesn’t specify any special training to member of ICC for fulfilling his/her duties.
- The Punishment after conviction of an offence shall be as per service rules of the employer if exist and otherwise as per rules under this act. But act is silent on situation where provisions under service rules of employer are not strict in nature.
- Also the compensation to be paid shall be dependent on status (income & financial) of employee alleged for harassment. It means lower executive have to pay less in respect of senior executive.
- The bill dilutes the responsibility of employer as for an offence fine shall be payed by concerned employee only. The employer has no responsibility to create harassment free environment. In US, for turning a blind eye against harassment can be sued and women can get compensation up to $300,000.
- Also there is no cancellation of registration or suspension in case of repetition of non compliance with provisions of act or making environment hostile for women etc. The only provision of fine of Rs 50000 in case of non compliance with provisions of act.
- The punishment for false complaints can be a deterrent in reporting of cases by women.
- The Act states that no court shall take cognizance of any offence and every offence under this act is non cognizable in nature (police can’t arrest any person without court warrant), but the recent allegations of sexual harassment against SC judge ganguly challenge the righteousness of this clause.
- The Suo motto power shall be given to ICC/LCC especially in cases of grave offences for better implementation of this act.
- The provision to include at least one person who has special knowledge of law especially in Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to avoid erroneous decisions as no legal knowledge.
- The more rigorous provision against employers if occurrence of sexual harassment cases is periodical in nature and due numbers are positive in nature.
- The punishment or compensation provisions require more emphasis rather than depend on service rules of employer only.
- Special tribunals for hearing of appeals for speedy disposal of complaints are much needed as ICC/LCC investigation can be questioned.