The Government of India, through the Department of Personnel & Training of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (“DoPT”), published the Office Memorandum F. No. 11013/2/2014-Estt.A-III, dated 9th September, 2016 regarding the seniority of the Chairperson of Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”) of an organization under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Before dealing with the seniority, the Office Memorandum gave reference to Office Memorandum no. 11013/2/2014-Estt.A-III dated 16th July, 2015, in which it was clarified that the ICC set up to inquire into charges of sexual harassment should be headed by a woman and at least half of the ICC members should be women. In case a women officer of sufficiently senior level is not available in a particular office, a senior woman officer from another office may be appointed. Please note that according to Section 4(2) of the Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, ICC has to be headed by a women.
With reference to seniority, DoPT stated that the issue of legality of the Chairperson of the ICC inquiring into a complaint of sexual harassment, being junior in rank to the officer against whom allegations of sexual harassment have been made, has been examined and clarified that there is no bar either in the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 or under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to the Chairperson of the ICC being junior to the officer against whom allegations of sexual harassment have been made.
It also suggested that to ensure fair inquiry, Ministries/ Departments may consider transferring the officer against whom allegations are made / charged officer to another office to obviate any risk of that officer using the authority of his office to influence the proceedings of the ICC.
Please click here to view the Office Memorandum dated 9th September, 2016.
Please click here to view the Office Memorandum dated 11th July, 2016 which also made reference to the same point.
Please click here to view the Office Memorandum dated 16th July, 2015.
– Adv. Shivangi Prasad – Corporate Lawyer, External Member & Trainer, Head – Legal & Compliance, Partner POSH at Work