Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), a body envisaged to receive complaints on sexual harassment at the workplace from an aggrieved woman, as well as to inquire into and make recommendations to the employer on the action required pursuant to its inquiry of such complaint made. The college administrative hierarchy constituted Internal Complaints Committee as shown below to take care of the duties and responsibilities concerned. In pursuance of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 and the Rules framed there under, the Institute hereby adopts the following procedure for determining complaints filed to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted under the Act. The procedure complies with the basic principles of natural justice and fair play and has to be adhered to in all complaints, though, in individual complaints, for reasons to be stated in writing, the ICC reserves the right to make exceptions to the procedure stated hereunder.
One must note that colleges don’t only have a mandate from the UGC to constitute an ICC, but also a mandate under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”) and Rules, 2013 (“Rules”) as the definition of employer under Section 2 (g) of the Act and definition of workplace under 2 (o) (i) clearly include ‘…organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution…’ and Section 2 (o) (ii) further includes ‘…undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmental organisation, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational…service.’ There is another clear and specific provision related to ‘educational institution’ under the law. Rule 7, which is to do with ‘relief to complainant during pendency of inquiry,’ states that ‘the Complaints Committee at the written request of the aggrieved woman may recommend to the employer to (a)… (b) restrain the respondent in case of an educational institution from supervising any academic activity of the aggrieved woman’. The mandate to constitute ICC comes from Section 4 of the Act.
COLLEGE INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE
In this context, it must be noted that the law has laid down several responsibilities for an employer, in this case an educational institute. It states under Section 19 of the Act that every employer must provide a safe working environment, organize regular workshops and awareness programs and display order constituting the Internal Complaints Committee at a conspicuous place. Rule 13 further states that every employer must formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy for prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment at workplace…, carry out employee awareness programs and create forums for dialogue… and declare the names and contact details of all the Members of the internal Committee. In fact, there is also a mandate that employer must receive an annual report of the number of complaints of sexual harassment filed and resolved from its ICC and provide these details in its annual report or submit it to the District Officer appointed under the Act (Under Section 21 and 22 and Rule 14). Apart from this, the other reason is that an aggrieved woman in a college can be anyone – whether it’s a student, teacher or a complete stranger visiting the college. In case any such individual desires to file a complaint of sexual harassment, and there is no Internal Complaints Committee in the college, not only can the college be penalized as per Section 26 of the Act but also the reputational damage that could follow, to the college as well as the individual against whom such complaint was to be filed, can be severe. Whereas, having an Internal Complaints Committee in place and creating awareness about it, will not only ensure that there is a proper redressal mechanism in college, but would also instill faith in such institution.