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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Reconciliation move misused in some cases of workplace harassment: NCW

Section 10 of the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the NCW has suggested, should be removed.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2019 02:16 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
New Delhi
Any scope for reconciliation should be removed from resolution of sexual harassment cases at the workplace, according to the National Commission for Women. HT photo/Arijit Sen
Any scope for reconciliation should be removed from resolution of sexual harassment cases at the workplace, according to the National Commission for Women. HT photo/Arijit Sen
         

Any scope for reconciliation should be removed from resolution of sexual harassment cases at the workplace, according to the National Commission for Women (NCW). The Commission is of the view that reconciliatory procedures often tend to be misused to coerce a complainant to withdraw the complaint.

Section 10 of the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the NCW has suggested, should be removed. Any person facing a complaint of workplace misconduct should either be acquitted or punished under the law.

The recommendation is part of a report that the NCW prepared after it held regional consultations on the Act in four cities to analyse if the law was strong enough after the MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault started in 2017 and eventually spread to India .

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said the consultations were held so that the recommendations could be taken up by the group of ministers formed to have a relook at legal infirmities in the law.

Home minister Amit Shah, human resources development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and women and child development minister Smriti Irani are part of the group.

“We hope that these recommendations will be taken up by the group of ministers,” said Sharma.

Lawyer and women’s rights activist Vrinda Grover said reconciliation at times leads to counselling of a person accused of sexual harassment. She recommended that section 14 of the Act, which deals with false and malicious complaints, also be amended.

“There are degrees of misconducts and complaints; sometimes the complainant simply wants to make employers aware of an accused’s conduct. But the section, with rigid procedures, tends to leave women feeling threatened,” said Grover.

Former Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar welcomed the suggestion and said that in his experience, most women who agree to reconciliation had been coerced in some manner. “Monetary compensation cannot undo the trauma of a woman, especially when the man is in a position of power,” said Kumar.

Consultations were held at Delhi’s National Law University, Bengaluru’s National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Ahmedabad’s Gujarat National Law University, and at Guwahati’s National Law University and Judicial Academy.

Another key recommendation is to amend the Act to include gender-based sexual crimes.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 02:16 IST

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