Sexual harassment at workplace: Law is of no use as rules yet to be notified

Law against sexual abuse at workplace is yet to be of concrete use to victims.

New Delhi: The landmark law which was passed this year against sexual harassment at the workplace is yet to be of concrete use in actually providing justice to victims as the rules under it are caught up between the Law Ministry and the Women and Child Development Ministry.

While the Law Ministry claims that it is yet to receive a final version of the rules, WCD officials state they have been holding "long discussions" with the former "to finalise the rules". The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, was passed by Parliament in April this year.

When contacted, Law Ministry on Saturday clarified that the rules were not pending with it and added it was awaiting a final version of the same from the WCD Ministry.

P.K. Malhotra, Secretary (Legislative Department), is said to have written to his counterpart in WCD Ministry, Nita Chowdhury, clarifying that the issue of forming rules was not pending with his ministry.

Law Ministry is learnt to have pointed out to WCD Ministry that the final version of the rules has so far not been handed over to its Legislative Department for notification. Meanwhile, Chowdhury, for her part, confirmed the exchange of letters between the two ministries and agreed that the rules are yet to be finalised.

"We have received the letter from the Legislative Department Secretary, but the rules have not yet been finalised.

"Both Ministries are holding long discussions to finalise the rules," Chowdhury said.

The law in question makes it mandatory for all offices with 10 or more employees to have an internal complaints committee (ICC) to deal with sexual harassment cases.

The delay in the notification of the rules assumes significance in light of the sexual harassment allegations against Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal as his company had no ICC in place despite the same being compulsory under the Act. Experts say that had the rules been notified, Tejpal could have faced more trouble in the case.

( Source : PTI )
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