Harassment at workplace: Jaitley say no to Maneka request on disclosure of probe panels

In his letter, Jaitley objected to Maneka’s suggestion on the ground that industry representatives were against “enhanced disclosures under the Companies Act, 2013 and adding to these may not be desirable”.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Updated: December 8, 2015 4:16 am
maneka gandhi, arun jaitley, WCD ministry, harassment at workplace, women and child ministry, Internal Complaints Committee, Company act 2013, women harassment ICC, india news, latest news, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi added that making such a disclosure compulsory would compel companies to put in place a functioning complaints committee.  (Source: Express file photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley has turned down his cabinet colleague Maneka Gandhi’s request to make it mandatory for companies to reveal whether they have put in place an Internal Complaints Committee to inquire into sexual harassment complaints of women employees.

In his letter, Jaitley objected to Maneka’s suggestion on the ground that industry representatives were against “enhanced disclosures under the Companies Act, 2013 and adding to these may not be desirable”.

The Woman and Child Development (WCD) Minister has now asked Jaitley to reconsider his decision in view of effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), 2013 “in its true spirit”.
Watch Video: Sexual Harassment In Workplace- Jaitley Rejects Maneka’s Proposal

In a strongly worded reply, Maneka said, “I would beg to differ with the view that mandating this would add any burden on the companies as the only information required to be disclosed in the Board/ Director’s report is that the companies have actually constituted the Internal Complaints committee”. She added that making such a disclosure compulsory would compel companies to put in place a functioning complaints committee. “And if all the companies in the country have a functioning ICC, this itself will be a great step towards women empowerment,” she wrote.

The Act defines what constitutes sexual harassment at workplaces and requires all employers to set up the Internal Complaints Committee. Under the Act, such a committee will have powers similar to that of a civil court and has to complete its inquiry within 90 days.

On Monday, while releasing a handbook on sexual harassment in the workplace for employers, Maneka said there is no data available with the ministry on compliance as there is no way to collect it unless it is reported to the police. “Most companies do not want to malign their image, so they don’t bother going to police. But the first stage is setting up a functioning internal committee in the firm that will hear the matter and decide on the course of action, which many companies are yet to do. This is why we have written to the Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister asking that firms should reveal it in their annual reports.”

Under the Companies Act, 2013, every firm is required to file annual reports where they have to mandatorily disclose a host of details including assets, liabilities, salaries of directors. These disclosures are public documents and non-disclosure can amount to revocation of their licence.

Ministry officials added that letters to industry bodies such as Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry seeking a compliance report have evinced poor response. “We regularly get sexual harassment complaints from women employees in well known firms that still don’t have a panel. Many firms believe that having such a cell will lead women employees to create nuisance,” said officials.

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First Published on: December 8, 2015 12:34 am
  1. B
    babablacksheep
    Dec 8, 2015 at 2:09 am
    Women are less important than black money it seems.
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    1. K
      Karunakaran
      Dec 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm
      The photoshopped black to pink Gujjubhai mann-key man's major focus is to help the businessmen. Cry all you want, but the focus is to help the businessmen. For an all-round development and progress of India, the disadvantaged, women, and the labour cannot be ignored. But tell that to the photoshopped black to pink Gujjubhai mann-key man. Indians must get ready to welcome either Mr hi Mr Nitish Kumar as their Prime mInister. Both Mr hi and Mr Nitish Kumar have style and have substance. Both of them are very dignified. They will never run after the goras to take a selfie.
      Reply
      1. K
        Karunakaran
        Dec 8, 2015 at 4:23 am
        The photoshopped black to pink Gujjubhai mann-key man's major focus is to help the businessmen. Cry all you want, but the focus is to help the businessmen. For an all-round development and progress of India, the disadvantaged, women, and the labour cannot be ignored. But tell that to the photoshopped black to pink Gujjubhai mann-key man. Indians must get ready to welcome either Mr hi Mr Nitish Kumar as their Prime mInister. Both Mr hi and Mr Nitish Kumar have style and have substance. Both of them are very dignified. They will never run after the goras to take a selfie.
        Reply
        1. D
          Deepak
          Dec 8, 2015 at 2:23 am
          Maneka is completely right and I applaud her for bringing up this issue. Jaitley is wrong yet again.
          Reply
          1. F
            Farooque Shahab
            Dec 8, 2015 at 9:18 am
            This is a very sensible demand, coming from Mrs. Maneka hi. Work place harment of women employee is quite common, including in India's organise sector. How a self attestation in the company's Annual Report will be detrimental to the interest of corporates is not understandable so long that they agree that workplace harment is neither good for the society nor for the corporates. Mr. Jaitley should have no qualms to agree to the proposal.
            Reply
            1. A
              Ank
              Dec 10, 2015 at 2:42 am
              This good and important suggestion, it should be implement with Immediate effect. And also monitored that no one misused it.
              Reply
              1. M
                Mithu
                Dec 8, 2015 at 2:40 am
                Jaitley is protecting his favorite at the cost of women's rights. His head is too big to see the plight of women in Indian society. For once maneka is making sense.
                Reply
                1. D
                  Deepak
                  Dec 8, 2015 at 4:14 am
                  What is Jet Lee afraid of ?
                  Reply
                  1. P
                    Pradei
                    Dec 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm
                    What about the committees now in place at Government departments and PSU's. How many complaints has been registered and how many has been settled? Whether Public or Private women's safety and self respect are compromised time and again each day and these politicians go on setting up committees without any urance of authentic punishment both for accused and for bogus accusers.
                    Reply
                    1. B
                      benyamin
                      Dec 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm
                      Hi
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        Shine
                        Dec 8, 2015 at 8:44 am
                        Maneka is always for Stray Dogs and why all of sudden coming into women protection ?? Maybe with the data she wanted to blackmail the company ???
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Sidhu
                          Dec 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm
                          She has given us enough headaches wit the stray dog menace, so please don't give us any suggestions as they invariably lead to awful consequences.
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Sanju
                            Dec 8, 2015 at 3:51 am
                            Democracy is a luxury ship that rich people like to drive at the expense of poor folks pretending it is for the greater good and nothing gets done.......While communism is the tractor that can control rich and poor alike and get the hard work done efficiently and benefit everybody effectively.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Sanju
                              Dec 8, 2015 at 3:49 am
                              Maneska I understand you are a dog lover......but you should be a people lover more. We cant have rabid dogs on streets biting and barking aggressively at people. People come first. F the Dogs. Spay them, Neuter them and cthch them and try adoption. If not terminate their lives with painless injections. Otherwise public must definitely take matters into their own hands..........what will it be??? Stick to the head?? Forced drowning?? Poisoning???? Accidently reun them over????
                              Reply
                              1. V
                                Vedic_Citizen
                                Dec 8, 2015 at 2:02 am
                                All companies that employ women should have a committee to inquire to harment, and also FIR must be registered with police with the cinsent of victim when an incident is reported. Hope, Modi intervenes here and convinces Jaitley.
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Swapan Chakravarthy
                                  Dec 8, 2015 at 5:22 am
                                  But they will declare themselves British.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Swapan Chakravarthy
                                    Dec 8, 2015 at 5:21 am
                                    Even in the West workplace harment of any form is allegedly not tolerated. Most employees are contract staff anyway and it needs only an action of declaring the position redundant that is sufficient to take care of issues arising from any complaints. I have been witness to many such events including "work place ethics" committee's whose sole function is to water down complaints. For any actionable complaint, it has to be carried to a court which is neither cheap nor easy. The rape case of 2012 has not been resolved to date with Supreme Court sitting on to it. How would in contrast a minor complaint be treated?
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