New Delhi: A complainant in sexual harassment case will be allowed three months paid leave and she or the charged central government employee can be transferred to other department during the inquiry, according to Office Memorandum F.No.11013/2/2014-Estt (A-II1) dated July 16, issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in such cases.
The disciplinary authority has been directed not to dispense with the inquiry in complaints of sexual harassment lightly, arbitrarily or with ulterior motive or merely because the case against the government servant is weak.
The committees for checking sexual harassment at work place will have the powers to recommend transfer of the aggrieved woman or the charged officer to any other workplace, and to grant leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of three months. “The leave will not be deducted from her leave account,” it said.
Complaints committees have been set up in all ministries and organisations under them in pursuance to the judgement of the Supreme Court in the Vishakha case. These committees are to be headed by a woman and at least half of its members should be women.
“In case a woman officer of sufficiently senior level is not available in a particular office, an officer from another office may be so appointed. To prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such complaints committees should involve a third party, either an NGO or some other body which is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment,” the DoPT said in its instructions.
The aggrieved woman or complainant is required to make a complaint within three months of the incident and in case there has been a series of incidents, three months of the last incident, it said.
The complaints committee may, however, extend the time limit for reasons to be recorded in writing, if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the complainant from filing a complaint within the stipulated period, the DoPT guidelines said.
Sexual harassment includes physical contact and advances, demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing any pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
Besides, implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment; implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; interference with her work, creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for her; and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety may also amount to sexual harassment, it said. .