The Chandigarh administration’s apparent lack of concern for safety of women from sexual harassment at workplace can be measured by the fact that majority of its departments have not even constituted their respective internal complaint committees.
There are around 50 departments out of which only 10 have set up internal complaint committees under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which prescribes strict punishment.
The act was enacted by the central government on December 9, 2013, and under Section 4(1) of the act, every employer is required to constitute an internal complaint committee with an aim of providing protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints in a stipulated time-frame.
The act makes it mandatory for all the departments having 10 or more employees to form such a committee and an employer can be fined `50,000 for violation of the act.
The non-serious attitude of the departments on this issue can be gauged from the fact that majority of them have failed to act despite getting repeated reminders from social welfare department and personnel department.
Social welfare department had issued instructions on December 10, 2013, to all departments for constitution of the committee, which was followed by another direction from personnel department on December 11, 2013.
The issue was taken up by UT administrator Shivraj Patil during a meeting held on January 6 earlier this year, following which a subsequent reminder was issued on January 10. Again, the social welfare department issued a direction on February 4 asking all the departments to comply with the act within a week.
What is worse is that the administration has not constituted commission for women in Chandigarh to this date, despite repeated directions and reminders by National Commission for Women (NCW), which was formed by the central government in 1992.
For the delay, the administration also faced the wrath of union minister for women and child development Krishna Tirath around two months ago, who asked the administration to constitute the panel at the earliest for promotion and protection of women rights without any further delay.
Pam Rajput, chairperson, union government’s high-level committee on the status of women, is hopeful that the act would be implemented soon in toto.
When contacted, UT social welfare director Rajesh Jogpal said the administration was committed towards providing a safe work environment for women and the committee would be formed in all the departments very shortly.
Constitution of the committee
A presiding officer who should be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from among the employees.
One member from non-government organsitions (NGOs) or association committed to the cause of women.
Not less than two members from among the employees, preferably committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work.
The presiding officer and every member of the committee should hold office for such period, not exceeding three years, from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the employer.