The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, has been passed in Lok Sabha.

It adopts several features of Vishaka judgment, including its definition of sexual harassment, covers elements such as promise or threat of preferential or detrimental treatment, and assigns duty of ensuring safe working environment to women to employers.

Complaints mechanism is at two-levels: Internal Committee at every workplace, or, wherever fewer than 10 people are employed, Local Committees.

Internal Committees to have senior woman employee as presiding officer, two other employees with commitment to women’s causes or having legal knowledge and one from among NGOs. Half of the panel should comprise women.

District Magistrate/Collector/or their deputies to be District Officers to enforce Act by constituting Local Committees to be chaired by eminent women from field of social work; one member from among women employed in area; two members, including one woman, from NGO working for women’s welfare, and Protection Officer for area nominated under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Inquiry includes scope for conciliation, order to transfer affected women or respondents; power of civil court to summon witnesses, report findings to employer or District Officer recommending action against respondents. Appeal against inquiry report should be made within 30 days.

Employers to take action if complaints proved right, non-compliance to be punished with Rs. 50,000 fine in the first instance, and higher penalty and cancellation of licence/registration in the event of second conviction; compensation to be provided to affected women, employer to deduct from salary/wage of perpetrator.

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