#MeToo: Centre to Form Legal Panel; Report Cases Fearlessly, Says Maneka


#MeToo movement highlighting sexual harassment at workplace. — Getty Images

Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said that her Ministry follows zero-tolerance towards sexual harassment of women at work place and also urged them to report such incidents.

NEW DELHI (IANS) — The government on Friday said it will set up a legal committee to look into the cases being revealed in the wake of #MeToo campaign, where women are narrating stories of their sexual harassment by individuals, especially in the media and entertainment industry.

“The Ministry will be setting up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons as members to examine all issues emanating from the #MeToo India movement,” the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry said in a statement.

Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said that her Ministry follows zero-tolerance towards sexual harassment of women at work place and also urged them to report such incidents.

“I urge working women across all sectors to come out fearlessly and report cases of any form of sexual harassment and we shall ensure all possible assistance. I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complaint. Cases of sexual harassment at work must be dealt with a policy of zero-tolerance,” she added.

According to the Ministry, the committee will comprise four retired judges and one amicus curiae, who will evaluate the existing legal and institutional framework for handling complaints of sexual harassment at work.

The committee will then advise the Ministry on how to strengthen this framework.

According to a WCD official, the committee will go into the legal and institutional framework and not act based solely on individual complaints.

“Public hearing doesn’t mean hearing of individual complaints. It means any stakeholder can come and depose before the committee if they want to,” the official added.

A formal order regarding the constitution of committee will be in public domain shortly, the Ministry said.

“I want workplaces to be made more conducive to women employees, Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) — as required by the statute — to be set up, more functional trustworthy systems to be put in place and compliance reported in public domain. Investigations into the complaints should be carried out swiftly in a free and fair manner,” Gandhi added.

Currently, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act 2013) ensures safe working spaces for women. Consistent with the Vishaka judgment, the Act aspires to ensure women’s right to workplace equality, free from sexual harassment.

The Act recognises the right of every woman to a safe and secure workplace environment.

There are multiple mechanisms by which women can report grievances pertaining to sexual harassment. Complaints can be given to the ICCs or submitted at the dedicated portal of She-Box, the statement added.

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