The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 ("Act") under §4 mandates the constitution of an Internal Complaints Committee ICC ("ICC"), for receiving and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. Per §4 of the Act every organisation and/or establishment, employing more than 10 employees is required to constitute such an ICC. §26 (1)(a) of the Act lays down the penalty for non-compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Act, including non-constitution of an ICC.
The non-constitution of the ICC in the quorum prescribed under the Act, attracts a penalty, including fine upto Rs.50,000 and twice the amount of fine on repetition of the same offence. Further, the Act contemplates withdrawal, non-renewal or cancellation of business licenses, as the case may be, for repeated offence.
The courts in India have also repeatedly imposed penalty for non-compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Act including, non-constitution of ICC's. Despite the continued legislative and judicial attempts to seek compliance with mandatory provisions of the Act, in particular constitution of ICC'S as prescribed under §4, the compliance levels remains unsatisfactory.
In another effort to secure greater compliance with the Act, the employers in the State of Maharashtra and the State of Telangana are now required to register their Internal Complaints Committees with the State authorities.
The directives from the two State Governments have come in the form of office orders issued by the concerned State authorities and compliance with the directives is sought from all workplaces, as understood and defined under the Act.
Under §23 of the Act, the Central and State Governments are both empowered to monitor the implementation of the Act. Further, in accordance with §25 of the Act, the Government is well within its rights to call upon any employer or district officer to furnish in writing information relating to sexual harassment, as it may require. It is therefore mandatory to comply with the office orders and the failure to furnish information or non-registration of the ICC's could lead to a fine extending upto Rs.50,000 as well as cancellation and/or withdrawal of business licenses.
The efforts at the State Government level, are a part of the larger scheme of securing compliance with the Act, which has still not been achieved, even after 6 years of enactment of the Act. The efforts of the State Governments are likely to secure greater compliance and we can therefore expect to see similar office orders and/or circulars from other State authorities, going forward.
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