In a move to encourage women employees facing sexual harassment to come forward, the Centre on Tuesday reduced the deadline for completing inquiries into complaints to 30 days. It also ordered departments to ensure that complainants are not victimised.
The department of personnel & training (DoPT) – that acts as the government’s human resource manager – told them to watch out for the well-being of women whose complaints are proven. This, it said, was to be done for five years to ensure she was “not subjected to vendetta”.
Under the sexual harassment at workplace law, the inquiry committee has to give its report within 90 days. The attempt to make it 30 days comes after Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi expressed disappointment with the way sexual harassment inquiries were getting held up. In October, Gandhi promised to ensure that complaints were dealt with in a “timely and sensitive manner”.
The DoPT went a step further. “She (the complainant) should not be posted under the respondent (who is facing the complaint) or any other person where there may be a reasonable ground to believe that she may be subjected to harassment,” DoPT director Mukesh Chaturvedi said in the memo. It also reminded departments to include the number of cases and action taken in their annual reports.
Sources said only eight departments reported the figures in the previous financial year. The department of atomic energy reported the highest, 15.