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HC suggests joint committee in the film industry

To deal with sexual harassment complaints

March 17, 2022 07:51 pm | Updated 07:51 pm IST - KOCHI

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday observed that organisations associated with the film industry, including the Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA), Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, Kerala Film Producers Association, should take steps to constitute a joint committee to deal with sexual harassment of women that would render sufficient confidence to women actors and other women employees in the film field.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chali was disposing of a public interest litigation filed by the Women in Cinema Collective.

It observed that each production unit was an establishment employing actors and other workers and, therefore, had to maintain an internal complaints committee if they were engaging more than 10 workers as contemplated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The court also made it clear that if women workers were employed by any of the organisations in the film industry in which less than 10 workers were employed, they were entitled to make suitable complaints to the local complaints committee in accordance with Section 6 read with Section 9 of the Act.

Officers notified by the government under the Act would constitute a local committee in the district concerned to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the internal committee had not been constituted.

The court asked AMMA to take action to notify the members of the internal complaints committee, as it had volunteered to establish such a committee.

The Women in Cinema Collective pointed out in its petition that there was a pressing need to constitute an internal complaints committee in the film industry in the light of the recent abusive practices and sexual harassment faced by women in the industry.

Disposing of another public interest litigation seeking a directive to appoint internal complaints committees in political parties, the court observed that political parties that did not have any employer-employee relationship with its members and which were not carrying on with any private venture, undertaking, enterprises, institution, establishment etc., in contemplation of a 'workplace' as defined under Section 2(o)(ii) of Act, 2013, were not liable to constitute any internal complaints committee.

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