Maneka Gandhi called it a step towards making the workplace safe for women.
In order to ensure better implementation of the law against sexual harassment at workplace, the Centre has made it mandatory for companies to disclose whether they have constituted an internal complaints committee (ICC) to probe such allegations.
The Corporate Affairs Ministry has amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, governed by the Companies Act, 2013, mandating the disclosure. This has been a long-standing demand from Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi.
The amended rules were notified on July 31. It adds a clause to a rule on matters that should be part of the Board’s report.
The new clause says that the report will have to contain “a statement that the Company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.”
Ms. Gandhi called the move a “major step towards making the workplace safe for the women in the private sector.” She added that she will be requesting regulator Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to incorporate this disclosure in the report on corporate governance of various companies so that there is a higher responsibility on the Directors of these Companies to implement the Act.
Under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, it is mandatory for any organisation with 10 or more employees to constitute an ICC. An employer who doesn’t do so could face a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.
An ICC should consist of a presiding officer, who is a woman employee at a senior level in the same organisation, at least two employees “preferably committed to the cause of women”, and a member from an NGO or a person “familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.”
Like civil court
The committee would have powers similar to those of a civil court and would have to complete its inquiry within 90 days.
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