Legal Remedies for the Victim under Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (POSH) Act, 2013

Last Updated at: April 20, 2020
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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment of a woman in the workplace is a grave concern to the humanity on the whole. It cannot be taken lightly, as it may include sexual advances. Also, it includes other kinds of verbal or physical harassment that comprises of sexual nature. The victims of sexual harassment face health and psychological effects. Effects like depression, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt etc. In that in a note, the same Ministry of women and Child Development has introduced the POSH act to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. Under this act, there are some legal remedies for harassment available which can be availed by the victim.

Internal Committee (IC)

All the workplaces consisting of 10 employees or more than that are required to form an Internal Committee, as per the act which states whereabouts of the offices or administrative units of the workplace which are located at different places or divisional or sub-divisional level. The IC should be formed at all administrative units or offices.

If the workplace consists of less than 10 employees, then there is no need to form an IC.  All the complaints in this situation will go to the local complaints committee which is set up according to the act by district officers of each district. In situations where the complaint has to be filed against the employer himself, then one should approach the local complaints committee.

Filing and hearing of the complaints

Any distressed woman can file the complaint of sexual harassment to the Internal Committee within 3 months of the occurrence. The time period within which one can file the complaint can also be stretched to another period of three months. Also, where the distressed woman is not able to make a complaint due to her physical inability. At that time, her legal heir, friend, relative, co-worker, an officer of the State Women’s Commission or National Commission for Women may make a complaint to the IC on her behalf, with her permission. Also, if it is found that a woman is suffering from mental incapacity, at that time, a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist or the guardian or authority under whose care she is getting treatment or care, can file a complaint before the IC.

Ask a Free Legal advice

Before initiating the inquiry IC may try to concile between both the parties if the distressed woman requests to do the same. But no kind of monetary settlement can be availed on the basis of conciliation. If conciliation is impossible, then IC will inquire into the complaint. And give both parties a chance to be heard and will complete the inquiry within 90 days. During the inquiry process of being heard, no party is allowed to bring a lawyer to represent them.

After the inquiry, IC needs to make an inquiry report in 10 days by giving recommendations on the matter. It should also give a copy of the report to the organization or company and the parties concerned. The organization or company need to act according to the recommendations in 60 days. According to the act, if victim isn’t satisfied with the findings of IC, she can appeal to tribunal or court. IC is assigned with the responsibility of submitting an annual report on the number of cases that have taken place and got solved during the year to the company. The company is further mandated to include this given information in its annual report. In the cases of companies which do not prepare their annual report, the companies are required to inform the number of such cases to the District Officer.

Relief to the victim

Internal Committee, according to the section 12 of the act can recommend to the employer to provide some kind of relief to the victim. Such as transfer the distressed woman or the respondent to any other workplace or grant leave to the distressed woman up to a period of three months, during the pendency of inquiry, but only in the cases where a victim makes a written request.

For further relief to the victims that can be provided during the pendency of inquiry, such as warning the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the distressed woman or writing her confidential report etc.

Compensation

According to section 15 of the act, IC may keep the below things in mind and determine the compensation-

a)  Mental trauma, suffering, pain and emotional distress caused to the victim.

b)  The loss in career prospects

c)  Medical expenses sustained by the victim for physical or psychiatric treatment.

d) Income and financial status of the respondent.

e)  The possibility of such payment in lump sum or in installments.

 

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Legal Remedies for the Victim under Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (POSH) Act, 2013

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Sexual harassment of a woman in the workplace is a grave concern to the humanity on the whole. It cannot be taken lightly, as it may include sexual advances. Also, it includes other kinds of verbal or physical harassment that comprises of sexual nature. The victims of sexual harassment face health and psychological effects. Effects like depression, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt etc. In that in a note, the same Ministry of women and Child Development has introduced the POSH act to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. Under this act, there are some legal remedies for harassment available which can be availed by the victim.

Internal Committee (IC)

All the workplaces consisting of 10 employees or more than that are required to form an Internal Committee, as per the act which states whereabouts of the offices or administrative units of the workplace which are located at different places or divisional or sub-divisional level. The IC should be formed at all administrative units or offices.

If the workplace consists of less than 10 employees, then there is no need to form an IC.  All the complaints in this situation will go to the local complaints committee which is set up according to the act by district officers of each district. In situations where the complaint has to be filed against the employer himself, then one should approach the local complaints committee.

Filing and hearing of the complaints

Any distressed woman can file the complaint of sexual harassment to the Internal Committee within 3 months of the occurrence. The time period within which one can file the complaint can also be stretched to another period of three months. Also, where the distressed woman is not able to make a complaint due to her physical inability. At that time, her legal heir, friend, relative, co-worker, an officer of the State Women’s Commission or National Commission for Women may make a complaint to the IC on her behalf, with her permission. Also, if it is found that a woman is suffering from mental incapacity, at that time, a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist or the guardian or authority under whose care she is getting treatment or care, can file a complaint before the IC.

Ask a Free Legal advice

Before initiating the inquiry IC may try to concile between both the parties if the distressed woman requests to do the same. But no kind of monetary settlement can be availed on the basis of conciliation. If conciliation is impossible, then IC will inquire into the complaint. And give both parties a chance to be heard and will complete the inquiry within 90 days. During the inquiry process of being heard, no party is allowed to bring a lawyer to represent them.

After the inquiry, IC needs to make an inquiry report in 10 days by giving recommendations on the matter. It should also give a copy of the report to the organization or company and the parties concerned. The organization or company need to act according to the recommendations in 60 days. According to the act, if victim isn’t satisfied with the findings of IC, she can appeal to tribunal or court. IC is assigned with the responsibility of submitting an annual report on the number of cases that have taken place and got solved during the year to the company. The company is further mandated to include this given information in its annual report. In the cases of companies which do not prepare their annual report, the companies are required to inform the number of such cases to the District Officer.

Relief to the victim

Internal Committee, according to the section 12 of the act can recommend to the employer to provide some kind of relief to the victim. Such as transfer the distressed woman or the respondent to any other workplace or grant leave to the distressed woman up to a period of three months, during the pendency of inquiry, but only in the cases where a victim makes a written request.

For further relief to the victims that can be provided during the pendency of inquiry, such as warning the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the distressed woman or writing her confidential report etc.

Compensation

According to section 15 of the act, IC may keep the below things in mind and determine the compensation-

a)  Mental trauma, suffering, pain and emotional distress caused to the victim.

b)  The loss in career prospects

c)  Medical expenses sustained by the victim for physical or psychiatric treatment.

d) Income and financial status of the respondent.

e)  The possibility of such payment in lump sum or in installments.

 

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