Under severe criticism for failing to notify Rules of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, even seven months after the law was enacted, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is burning the midnight oil to finalise the Rules.

The Ministry officials have, over the past two days, been finalising the draft Rules which were placed in public domain in July this year, and forwarded these to the Ministry of Legal Affairs for vetting.

The final Rules are expected to be notified shortly.

A senior official in the Ministry told The Hindu that it had removed the provision for penalising a woman for lodging a false complaint, following sharp reactions. The draft Rules mentioned imposition of a fine of Rs. 500, among other penalties, if the complaint was false.

Other provisions

The draft Rules stated:

–Where the complainant is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical incapacity, in addition to her legal heir, a complaint may also be filed by any relative or friend or co-workers of the aggrieved woman, a member of the staff of the association or union in which she was a member, the National or State Commission for Women or any non-government organisation which has no conflict of interest in the matter.

But the written consent of the woman will have to be taken prior to filing such a complaint.

–Where the complainant is unable to make a complaint on account of her mental incapacity, in addition to her legal heir, a complaint may also be filed by a special educator or a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist or the guardianunder whose care the person is receiving treatment or care.

–In case the aggrieved party requests for conciliation, the chairperson of the Internal Complaints Committee/Local Complaints Committee shall, within a period of one week of the receipt of request for conciliation from the complainant, summon her in order to ensure that she is not opting for it under any form of coercion.

–The chairperson may himself or herself carry out the conciliation or nominate one member from the Committee to carry out this process, who shall then provide detailed information to both parties regarding the conciliation process.

–The conciliator shall fix in consultation with the parties, a time schedule, the dates and the time of each conciliation session, where both the parties have to be present; hold the conciliation at the place prescribed by the committee or the place where the parties and the conciliator jointly agree; and conduct joint or separate meetings with the parties.

–The conciliation process shall be completed within a period of forty five days from the time of receiving the request for the same from the complainant.

–Once the complaint is confirmed, the Committee can obtain a written apology from the respondent or warn, reprimand or censure, withhold promotion, withhold increments of pay, terminate the respondent from service, revoke, suspend any license or registration issued under any law for the time being in force, for such period as may be specified, compel the respondent to pay a reasonable amount of compensation to the complainant.

–In case of contractual employees, the committee may recommend termination of contractual services with the respondent.

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