Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sexual offence: Central government staff can’t move court

Dear Comrades,

ET Bureau | Aug 05, 2016, 03.01 AM IST

NEW DELHI: While a private sector employee can drag a colleague to a court or tribunal if she is not satisfied with the verdict of an internal committee in a sexual harassment probe, central government employees will not be able to do so. Their appeal will lie before the government only if the committee throws out the case. 

Sexual offence: Central government staff can’t move court The Centre has decided that the process of appeal in a sexual harassment case for a government employee will be to give a representation to theirdisciplinary authority if the government's internal committee that probed the case did not recommend any action against the accused official or penalised the complainant for lodging a 'false' complaint. 

The government has apparently done this to cut down on any external litigation and keep matters of sexual harassment involving its own officials within the government's ambit. 

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said a person aggrieved with recommendations by the internal committee may prefer an appeal before a court or a tribunal in accordance with service rules applicable to the said person. But it added that where no such service rules exist, the person aggrieved may prefer an appeal "in such a manner as may be prescribed". The government has used this provision to now specify the "procedure to be adopted" for these appeals. 

The procedure for government employees is that where a committee has not recommended any action against the employee against whom the allegation had been made of sexual harassment, the Disciplinary Authority (essentially the employee's ministry) will supply a copy of the report of the committee to the complainant. 

The appeal shall be deemed to be the complainant filing a representation before the Disciplinary authority which will consider the same before coming to a final conclusion in the matter. "All ministries/departments/offices are requested to bring these guidelines to the notice of all disciplinary authorities under their control," says the August 2 order issued by the Centre to all ministries. 
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