Internal Complaints Committee
ARCI has ZERO tolerance policy against sexual harassment. The ARCI Internal Complaints Committee (AICC) had been constituted on December 30, 2013 according to norms as specified in the New Act 2013 on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace: Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal. Earlier, the ARCI Women's Cell (ARCIWC) was constituted in March 2010 with an objective of looking after the welfare of the women employees and students, to facilitate redressal of their grievances, to help maintain a harmonious atmosphere at office and to enable women to pursue their work with dignity and reassurance.
On 13th August 1997, the Supreme Court of India held that sexual harassment of women is a violation of the fundamental right of women to work in a safe environment. The Supreme Court has defined 'sexual harassment' to include:
Any one or more of the following acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication), namely:
- physical contact and advances;
- demand or request for sexual favours;
- Sexually oriented remarks
- Showing pornography
- Use of electronic media (phone, internet, intranet) for perpetrating any of the above
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature
The following circumstances, among other circumstances, if it occurs or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment may amount to sexual harassment:
- implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment;
- implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment;
- implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status;
- interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her;
- humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
Often such behaviour goes unpunished because of hesitation on the part of women to report such behaviour out of a sense of shame or fear or both. It is important for women to protest against any behaviour that they feel is unwanted and unacceptable. The AICC at ARCI, Hyderabad has been set-up with the aim of providing women an appropriate complaint mechanism against unwelcome sexually determined behaviour whether directly or by implication.
What should you do if you are sexually harassed?
- Do not feel ashamed. Tell the harasser very clearly that you find his behaviour offensive.
- Do not ignore the harassment in the hope that it will stop on its own. Come forward and complain to AICC.
- Talk to somebody you trust about the harassment (preferably to AICC). It will not only give you strength but also help others in similar situations to come forward and complain.
- Keep a record of all incidents of sexual harassment. If you feel the need to register a formal complaint later, this record will be helpful.
- Most importantly, the victim must never blame herself for the harassment.
What action can be taken against the offender?
The AICC is deemed to be an Inquiry Authority as per the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and the report of the AICC is deemed to be an Inquiry Report under the rules.
In case, it has been proved that the offender has indulged in sexual harassment at the work place, appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against him . Where such conduct amounts to a specific offense under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, a complaint shall be filed with the appropriate authority for action to be taken in accordance with the law.
Care shall be taken by the AICC to ensure that the complainant and the witnesses are not victimized while dealing with the complaint. The complainant has the option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
The Role of the Committee
- To act as Inquiry Authority on a complaint of sexual harassment.
- To ensure that complainant and witnesses are not victimized or discriminated because of their complaint.
- To take proactive measures towards sensitization of all those, whose workplace is ARCI, on the rules on SHWWP (PPR).
- The New Act of Parliament 'The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013' [SHWW (PPR) Act] has received the assent of the President of India and promulgated on 22nd April, 2013.
- In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 29 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (14 of 2013), the Central Government notified Rules on 09th December, 2013.
- Office Memorandum was circulated by Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) dtd 27th November 2014 on 'The Alignment of Service Rules with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013'.