New norms of sexual harassment at workplace
THE government has amended the definition of sexual harassment as described under Rule 3-C of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, through a notification dated November 19, 2014. According to the amended rules for government servants, the prohibition of sexual harassment of working women includes the following:
No government servant shall indulge in any act of sexual harassment of any woman at any work place. Every government servant who is in-charge of a work place shall take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment to any woman at such work place.
Explanation- 1 for the purpose of this rule:
“Sexual harassment” includes any one or more of the following acts or behaviour, (whether directly or by implication), namely:
1. Physical contact and advances; or
2. Demand or request for sexual favours; or
3. Sexually coloured remarks; or
4. Showing any pornography; or
5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
Also, the following circumstances, among other circumstances, if it occurs or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment may amount to sexual harassment:
1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment; or
2. Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or
3. Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or
4. Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
5. Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
In fact, the amendment of the government rules was done to align service rules with the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act 2013.
A DoPT office memorandum dated November 27, 2014 advised all ministries and departments to adopt the following procedure while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment:-
1. Sexual harassment will include any one or more of the Acts or behaviour defined in Rule 3-C of the CCS (Conduct) Rules 1964 read with Sec 3(2) of SHWW (PPR) Act.
2. The committee constituted in each ministry/department/office under the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964 shall inquire into complaints of sexual harassment in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 of the SHWW (PPR) Act.
3. The committee will as far as practicable follow the procedures prescribed in CCS (CCA) Rules 1965 for conduct of the inquiry.
4. If any complaint is received directly by the committee, the same shall be referred to the appropriate disciplinary authority and the committee shall inquire into the complaint on the complaint being referred to it by the disciplinary authority.
In addition, the committee will have the powers to recommend to the employer:-
a) To transfer the aggrieved woman or the charged officer to any other workplace;
b) To grant leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of three months.
c) The leave granted to the aggrieved woman under this section shall be in addition to the leave she would be otherwise entitled to.
d) To grant such other relief to the aggrieved woman as may be prescribed; or
e) To deduct from the salary or wages of the charged officer such sum as it may consider appropriate to be paid to the aggrieved woman or to her legal heirs.
It may also be noted that the committee may recommend action to be taken against the person who has made a complaint, if the committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation is malicious or the aggrieved woman or the person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or has produced any forged or misleading document.
Also, the committee may also recommend action against any witness if it comes to the conclusion that such witness has given false evidence or produced any forged or misleading document.