A Central government committee has included patients, research scholars and students under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, which is likely to be introduced in the upcoming budget session.
An inter-ministerial group headed by Sudhir Kumar, Additional Secretary in the women and child development ministry, has decided to widen the ambit of the bill by including women covered under the “employer-employee relationship”.
A new clause 2 (a) has been inserted which defines aggrieved women, thereby bringing students, research scholars, patients and women in the unorganised sector within the ambit of the proposed law.
“We want the law to be as inclusive as possible,” a senior ministry official, on condition on anonymity, said.
“The effectiveness of the law might get diluted, if any client/receiver of a service were not covered. Women or client in relation are integral part of the functioning of educational institutions and hospitals,” the official said.
The group has also decided to provide for a penalty provision, including de-registration, of the institutions, which fail to constitute internal complaints committee. Along with committee, the proposed law provides for a mandatory district level local complaint committee to investigate sexual harassment complaints, especially registered by women working in the unorganised sector such as domestic helps.
“This will provide an aggrieved option to approach either of the committee,” the official said.
An important power recommended for the committee is to provide compensation to the victim from the income of the accused.
The group, however, overruled the objection of the Department of Personnel and Training, which manages cadre of Indian Administrative Service officers, to this clause saying that there cannot be different provisions for those working in private sector and the government.
In a bid to prevent false complaints, the group has decided to retain clause 12 in the law, which provides power to the committee to take action against the complainant, in case it is found to be false or malicious.