In consonance with the PoSH Act of 2013 or Women Harassment Act, the Kerala High Court instructed television industry firms to take action to establish a joint working group to cope with harassment cases of women on Thursday, March 17, 2022.
The court stated unequivocally that filmmakers must follow the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act of 2013, also recognised as the POSH Act, which Parliament enacted in 2013. Numerous women in India, including female stars, stand-up comedians, and high-ranking news reporters, alleged prominent individuals of sexual harassment mostly during the #Metoo campaign.
PoSH Act was passed in 2013, characterising sexual harassment and establishing the processes for lodging a lawsuit and conducting an investigation, as well as the measures to be taken.
In concept, the ICC doesn’t really necessitate the plaintiff to file a formal complaint before taking action. She does have the authority to do so, and any representative of the ICC must provide her with all reasonable assistance in completing and submitting an official complaint if she fails to act.
The accusation must be filed “within 3 months from the date of the episode,” according to the Act. The ICC, on either hand, has the authority to “increase the time restriction” if “it is satisfactory that the woman was precluded from lodging a report within the designated period based on things.”
Before initiating an investigation, and at the request of the aggrieved woman, the ICC may take steps to resolve the dispute between the aggrieved woman and the defendant through appeasement, offering that no financial compromise is made as a groundwork of rapprochement.
The ICC has two options: file a police report or file charges that must be accomplished within ninety days. In aspects of summoning and inquiring individuals under pledge, as well as trying to order the discovery and development of records, the ICC has civil-court-like power and authority.
Within ten days of the inspection’s execution, the ICC must give the firm a paper detailing its findings. The report is available to both stakeholders. According to the legislation, the legitimacy of the lady, the accused, and any eyewitnesses, as well as any relevant information on the investigation, proposal, and action is taken, is not to be publicly disclosed.
POSH Act India: Law Against Sexual Harassment
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, also known as the ‘PoSH Act,’ is an Indian law passed to make offices safer for women by halting, restricting, and resolving sexual misconduct against them in the organisation. The Ministry of Women and Child Development made the law effective throughout India on December 9, 2013.
Sexual Harassment Under The Law
Sexual harassment is defined under the Posh act clearly with examples. As per the law, sexual harassment outlined the procedures for filing a complaint and conducting an investigation and prescribed appropriate action.
According to Section 2(n) of the Act, sexual harassment includes the following unwelcome acts:
- Sexual advances and physical contact
- A request or demand for sexual favours.
- Making sexually charged remarks.
- Displaying pornography
- Any other unwanted sexual physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct.
These acts may be considered unwelcome if the woman expresses discomfort during their performance or refuses to consent to them. Furthermore, if any of the above acts or behaviours are involved, the following circumstances may constitute sexual harassment.
- The implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in the workplace.
- A threat of bad job treatment, either implicit or explicit.
- An implied or explicit threat regarding one’s current or future employment status.
- Interference with work or the creation of an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment
- Embarrassing treatment that may endanger one’s health or safety.
Complaint Filing Process Under The POSH Act
In essence, the outraged victim does not need to register a complaint for the ICC to act. According to the Act, she “may” do so, and if she cannot, any member of the ICC “must” offer her “all reasonable help” in registering a formal complaint. If the woman is unable to complain due to “physical or mental incompetency, death, or not,” her legitimate successor might well.
As per the Legislation, the case should be lodged “inside of 3 months from the date of the incident.” On the other hand, the ICC has the authority to “extend the time limit” if “it is satisfied that the woman was unable to file a complaint within the said period.”
The ICC “may” — provided that “no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation” — “take steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation” prior to inquiry.
The ICC may either refer the victim’s complaint to the police or initiate an investigation that must be completed within 90 days. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction exactly like such a civil court of India in regards to calling and interrogating someone as per the Posh Act and requesting the exploration of documentation.
When the investigation is finished, the ICC must provide the employer with a report on its findings within 10 days. Both parties are also given access to the report.
As per the Posh Act, the identification of harassed women or victims, respondent or accuse, or witness and minute details regarding the sexual harassment case, recommendations, and action is taken, must be kept private and not disclosed before the public.
After the ICC report
If the allegations of sexual harassment are proven, the ICC advises the employer to take action “in accordance with the provisions of the company’s service rules.” These may differ from one company to the next. It also suggests that the company deduct “as it may consider appropriate” from the person found guilty’s salary.
Compensation is determined by five factors: the woman’s suffering and emotional distress; her loss of career opportunity; her medical expenses; the respondent’s income and financial status; and the feasibility of such payment.
Following the recommendations, the aggrieved woman or respondent has 90 days to file an appeal in court.
Section 14 of the Act addresses the penalties for filing a false or malicious complaint and providing false evidence. In this case, the ICC “may recommend” to the employer that action be taken against the woman or the person who filed the complaint “in accordance with the provisions of the service rules.”
The Act, on the other hand, states unequivocally that action cannot be taken for a “mere inability” to “substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof.”
Regardless of the result of a petition lodged in due diligence, the Employee filing the allegation, as well as any individual offering information or acting as a testimony, will be guarded against retaliatory action. Posh at work ensures that there will be no misuse of power and the employer must comply with Posh act rules. When interacting with sexual harassment allegations, the IC or DC, as the instance may be, must help make sure that the Plaintiff or testify also isn’t victimised or treated differently against the Defendant. Any unjustifiable stresses, intimidatory, or even other immoral practices by the Defendant against the Plaintiff during or after the interrogation must be notified immediately to the IC or DC, as the case may be. The IC or DC, depending on the case, will take disciplinary action against any such complaints.
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