Grievance /Harassment Cell Guidelines
According to the Constitution of India, Right to Equality is a Fundamental Right that includes the right to equality before law, prohibition of discrimination and equality of opportunities in matters of public employment. Equality between men and women, right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and provision of just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief, are important Directive Principles of State Policy.
Following the 1997 Supreme Court judgment in the case of Vishaka and others versus the State of Rajasthan, the Women Grievance/Harassment Cell in Integral University was constituted in January, 2002, in accordance with the mandate that it shall be the duty of the Employer to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment by taking all steps required, and to be proactive by developing a conducive atmosphere on the campus, where women can work safely with dignity.
Since then IU Women Grievance/Harassment Cell has been dealing with cases of sexual harassment that came up, and has also been organizing awareness activities and women's welfare workshops/lectures. In the light of the experience a definite need is perceived for sensitization of the students and employees towards gender issues, and laying down guidelines for handling cases of sexual harassment or misbehaviour.
Purpose and Content of the Guidelines
This document on Guidelines for Functioning of the Women Grievance/Harassment Cell is prepared with the following aims:
- 1. Assist the Cell in carrying out its functions;
- 2. Sensitize all the constituencies of IU towards the Constitutional and Supreme Court mandate of prohibition of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at work place;
- 3. Inform all about functioning of the Cell at IU; and
- 4. The document includes the objectives, definitions, functions, complaint redressal procedure, guidelines for constitution of the Cell and a Panel of Advisors, ethical responsibilities to the complainants and the alleged perpetrator.
The guidelines include the following as acts of sexual harassment:
- Physical contact and advances
- Showing pornography
- demand or request for sexual favours
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal – such as whistling, obscene jokes, comments about physical appearances, threats, innuendos, gender based derogatory remarks, etc.
According to the Code of Conduct at Work Place prepared by the National Commission for Women in 1998, sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour by any person either individually or in association with other persons or by any person in authority, whether directly or by implications, such as the following:
- Eve Teasing
- Unsavoury remarks
- Jokes causing or likely to cause awkwardness or embarrassment
- Innuendos and taunts
- Gender based insults or sexist remarks
- Unwelcome sexual overtone in any manner such as over telephone (obnoxious telephone calls) and the like
- Touching or brushing against any part of the body and the like
- Displaying pornographic or other offensive or derogatory pictures, cartoons, pamphlets or sayings
- Forcible physical touch or molestation and
- Physical confinement against one’s will and any other act likely to violate one’s privacy
The onus to provide a harassment free environment has been laid down on the students and employers who are required to take the following steps:
- Employers must form a Complaints Committee.
- Express prohibition of sexual harassment in any form and make the students/employees aware of the implications through in house communication system / posters / meetings.
- Must include prohibition of sexual harassment with appropriate penalties against the offender in Conduct rules.
- Prohibition of sexual harassment in the standing orders under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 to be included by private employers.
- Provision of appropriate work conditions in respect of- work, leisure, health, hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women.
- No woman student/ employee should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her study/employment.
- Sexually coloured remarks
- Specific offences under the Indian Penal Code or any other law to be dealt through appropriate action in accordance with the law, by making a complaint with the appropriate authority.
- Victims of sexual harassment to be given an option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
Following are the objectives of the Cell:
- 1. Prevent gender discrimination and sexual harassment, by promoting gender equity amongst all IU students and employees.
- 2. Make recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for modifications/changes/elaborations in the Rules, Standing orders and Bye-Laws etc, to make them gender just and to lay down procedures for the prohibition, resolution, settlement and prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.
- 3. Deal with cases of sexual harassment, in a time bound manner, aiming at ensuring support services to the victimized and termination of the harassment;
- 4. Recommend appropriate punitive action against the guilty party to the Vice Chancellor.
The main functions of the Cell are:
- Promotion of Gender amity
- Programmes concerning women’s welfare
Cases of Gender Discrimination/Sexual Harassment:
- Deal with complaints of gender discrimination/sexual harassment and make an inquiry into the case. Provide support services to the victimized and recommend early action to the Vice Chancellor to ensure termination of the harassment with immediate effect,
- Consult a lawyer, doctor and/or a counselor, as the need may be,
- Refer the victim to a lawyer, doctor and/or a counselor, as the need may be and submit a report to the Vice Chancellor, recommending appropriate punitive action against the accused if found guilty; and
- Provide information/consultation to anyone who wants to discuss issues relating to gender discrimination/sexual harassment whether a complaint has been lodged or not.
- Follow the Complaint redressal procedure (as described below)
Complaint Redressal Procedure:
Procedure for the Complaint :
- complaint of gender discrimination/sexual harassment may be lodged with any member of the Cell in writing by the complainant.
- Under special circumstances an individual, who may be a friend/colleague/teacher/parent of the complainant, may make a written complaint on behalf of the complainant.
- written complaint to the Cell may be addressed to the Chairperson of the Cell. If a written complaint is made to the Vice Chancellor, Dean, Registrar or any of the Cell members, the complaint shall be forwarded to the Chairpersonr of the Cell.
Procedure for Conducting Enquiry
- If a prima facie case is made out, the Complaint Committee shall then proceed to inquire into the matter.
- record of the proceedings of each hearing shall be recorded and duly signed by all Committee members.
- The victim may called for re-examination one she had been asked to make her statement at the initial meeting, unless it is her wish to make an additional statement or any other details are required by the Committee.
- Once the Complaints Committee decides to proceed with the complaint it should draw up from the statement/s of the victim/complainant.
- The substance of the accusation of sexual harassment into explicit and distinctive charge.
- statement of the accusation of sexual harassment in support of each charge, which shall contain; a statement of all relevant facts: a list of documents by which, and a list of witnesses by whom, the charges are proposed to be sustained.
- On receipt of a complaint the same will be registered and the Chairperson will call a meeting of the Complaint Committee.
- register of complaints will be maintained.
- Separate files will be maintained for each case with the file number as on register.
- Notice of meetings of the Complaint Committee will be issued by the member with the approval of the Chairperson.
- The Complaint Committee is bound to maintain confidentiality during the time of the enquiry so as not to prejudice the proceedings.
- During an inquiry the quorum for all CPSHW's meetings will be one-third of the total membership.
- The Complaint Committee shall, within ten days of the receipt of a complaint, establish if there is a prima facie case of sexual harassment on the basis of both the definition of sexual harassment as given in this policy, and the jurisdiction of this policy. Reasons for not pursuing a complaint must be recorded in the minutes and made available to the complainant in writing.
- The Complaint Committee may form sub-committees from within the Committee members for such purposes as it may deem necessary.
- The entire process of enquiry should be completed within three months except for unavoidable circumstances which shall be recorded in writing.
- Any Complaint Committee member charged with sexual harassment in a written complaint must step down as member during the inquiry into that complaint.
- The Complaints Committee while initiating and conducting enquiry proceeding should keep the following in mind.
The Five Rights
- Right to be informed of the charge.
- Right to receive document in support of charge.
- Right to have evidence led in the presence of the charge sheeted person.
- Right to led evidence in favour.
- Right to cross examine.
In case where the complainant does not wish to be confronted by the charge sheeted person the committee can carry out the cross examination on behalf of the charge sheeted person.
Procedure for Redressal
- If there is a prima facie case against the accused, the Cell may recommend immediate suspension till the person is proved innocent or the issue is settled.
- Efforts must be made to resolve the dispute through counseling and mediation.
- In case the accused is found guilty, the Cell may recommend appropriate punitive action (see below) to be undertaken by the Vice Chancellor.
- Whenever appropriate, the Cell will refer the victim (complainant) to a lawyer to lodge a complaint with the concerned police station. The complainant shall then keep the CELL informed about progress with the complaint.
- The victims of sexual harassment should have the option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or her own transfer.
- The Cell may submit its report to the Vice Chancellor within eight weeks after the date of receipt of the complaint. In case the inquiry has to be extended beyond this period, the Chairperson of the Cell shall give the reasons for the delay in writing to the complainant.
- The Vice Chancellor may discuss his/her plan of punitive action against the guilty party with the Cell and then implement it within fifteen working days.
- copy of the Vice Chancellor’s order (or an action taken report) of the punitive action to the perpetrator may be given to the complainant/victim.
- The complainant shall have the right to appeal to the Chairperson of the Governing Board if she/he is not satisfied by the action taken by the Vice Chancellor.
- Nothing in these guidelines shall preclude anybody from simultaneously lodging a complaint with the police in respect of any act amounting to an offence under the law.
An employee guilty of sexual harassment shall be liable to give a written apology to the victim and any of the following punitive actions:
- Suitable censure/warning.
- Withholding of increments.
- Reduction to lower service, grade or post.
- Compulsory retirement.
- Removal from service, or
- Dismissal from service.
A student guilty of sexual harassment shall be liable to give a written apology to the victim and any of the following punitive actions:
- Suitable censure/warning.
- Withholding/withdrawing scholarship/fellowship and other benefits.
- Suspension/expulsion from the hostel.
- Rustication from the Institute for a period up to a certain period or
- Expulsion from the Institute.
Constitution Of The IU Women's Cell and a Panel of Advisors:
- The Committee is headed by a woman.
- Have half of its members are women.
- Representative members from all the departments of the University are in the Cell.
- An NGO or other agency who is familiar with sexual harassment is involved.
- The Committee has time bound frame work of functioning.
- It maintains confidentiality.
- Provides protection to the Complainant as well as the witnesses against victimization or discrimination.
- It submit an annual report to the concerned Government department with information of the action taken (if any) so far by them.
- Members have personal integrity and gender sensitivity.
- person shall be disqualified from being nominated to the Cell if there is a complaint of gender discrimination/sexual harassment against him/her.
Ethical Responsibilities to the Complaints and the Accused
- Cell shall be ethically responsible to the complainants and the accused and shall do its utmost to provide justice for each complaint to the best of its ability.