Minutes of the National Consultation held on April 03, 2003 to
discuss the draft Bill on Sexual Harassment of Women at their Work Place
A national consultation was organized by the National Commission for Women on
03.04.03 to discuss the draft Bill on Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place
During the course of discussion the following points emerged.
The proposed Bill should have a preamble and it must visualize ad reflect the
spirit of the Vishakha Judgement, the provisions of the Constitution and CEDAW
The ambit and jurisdiction of the draft bill was discussed in detail. It was
felt that the bill should be so drafted that it should not become
couterproductive and affect women adversely. The jurisdiction should be clearly
mentioned. A student, a client, a patient in a hospital should all be covered
within the ambit of the Bill.
It was also felt that the Bill should not dilute the Supreme Courts order on
The Bill should address the preventive measures of sexual harassment at work
It was suggested that the definition of the Sexual Harassment as given in the
Bill may be substituted by the definition given by the Supree Court in Vishakha
vs. State of Rajasthan.
While discussing the definition of workplace it was felt that there should be a
broad definition of workplace.
On the issue of joint responsibility of employer in offence of sexual
harassment it was suggested that the joint responsibility of the employer
should be of civil nature and it should be collective responsibility of the
employer. The employer should be held responsible in case no action has been
taken on the complaint of sexual harassment. The Bill should have a provision
to bind the employer to take the action against the accused.
On the point of prevention of sexual harassment of women employees it was
suggested to include the same in the preamble of the Bill.
On the subject of punishment, it was suggested that the same should be enhanced
to be exemplary. It was also suggested that provision of demotion may be
incorporated as a civil remedy. It was also felt that the civil and criminal
remedies should not be mixed up in the Bill.
It was further suggested that while drafting the Rules and Procedures under the
Bill, precaution must be taken to make it women friendly, and the procedures
should be given in detail. It was also suggested that if the victim is unable
to prove the offence of sexual harassment she should not be victimized at a
On the aspect of trial to be held in camera it was agreed that it should be
left on the choice of the victim.
It was further opined that the "Complaint Mechanism" should be reworded as "
Complaint Redressal Mechanism". It was also felt that a time frame of three
months may be introduced in the Bill for the complaint committee to submit its
report and the complaint committee must record the dissenting views if any.
It was also felt that it was necessary to have a re-look into the provision of
third party harassment in the Bill.
It was also suggested that the provision of Special Officer to deal with the
case in the Government Officers, be deleted as it was confusing. On the
provisions and role of the District Level Officer, it was felt that after the
enactment of the Act the same should be publicized for information of everyone.
The provisions incorporating certain prevention aspects should also be included
in the Bill. It was also felt that a provision must be in corporated in the
Bill to deal with the non-compliance of the order of the District Level Office.
Finally a need was felt to form a Drafting Committee to look into the
suggestions received and to prepare final draft. It was also desired that the
Committee should draft the Bill in three months time. The meeting ended with
vote of thanks.
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