The long-awaited bill on sexual harassment of women in workplaces might be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, Government said Monday.
"We are expecting to table the bill in the coming monsoon session. The draft of the bill is ready and it is in the final stages of consultations," Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
The legislation brings women students, research scholars and patients in the unorganised sector within its ambit.
"Many private organisations still don't have a committee for addressing the grievances of women in sexual harassment cases. The proposed law will see that a committee headed by a woman is present in every firm to address such cases," she said.
"A penalty will be imposed on those who fail to follow the guidelines. If private organisations don't meet the rules, strict action will be taken against them," Tirath sid.
According to the draft Bill, an employer can be penalised with a fine of up to Rs 50,000 if it fails to do any of the following — set up an internal committee, act on recommendations of the inquiry report, take action against those found guilty of making a false complaint or providing false evidence and publish information relating to harassment cases in its annual report.
Apart from government organisations and the organised private sector, the proposed legislation covers sectors like the hospitality industry — including catering services and restaurants — NGOs, health services, coaching centres, domestic workers and those working in tailoring or beauty parlours.
The bill also includes educational institutions, bringing students and researchers into the ambit of protection.
The draft law provides that if any employer, after being convicted of an offence punishable under the Act, is again convicted for the same offence, the punishment will be three time greater than that imposed on the first conviction, subject to the punishment being the maximum provided for the offence.
The government or local authority would also have the right to cancel or withdraw the licence to carry out business activity of the employer. The employer will be expected to provide a safe, working environment at the work place.