The Constitution Of The Internal Complaints Committee Under The Posh Act
By Lawfarm Team January 07, 2022
By Devanshi Shukla
In order to address the situation of sexual harassment of women at the workplace, the POSH (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal)) Act 2013 came into being. The act was enacted after the verdict of the Supreme Court in Vishaka and Others v. State of Rajasthan and Others, which highlighted the lack of a sexual abuse address mechanism in the workplace. The act was created from the "Vishaka Guidelines," which were formulated by the court in this case. The POSH Act provides for the fulfilment of several statutory essentials, one of which is the constitution of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC is a body constituted to receive sexual harassment complaints made by women and enquire into them. It also recommends possible solutions to the complaint to the employer.
The Constitution of the Internal Complaints Committee
The POSH Act requires that the employer establish an ICC when the minimum number of employees is satisfied and not wait for the constitution until a complaint is filed. The employer has to consolidate an ICC at all the locations and branches of the business. The term of office of all the ICC members has to be explicitly stated, and this term should not be more than three years. The ICC is required to sum up the enquiry into a complaint within ninety days and submit the report to the employer within ten days post the termination of the enquiry. The minimum number of members required for an ICC is four. The ICC, as constituted by the employer, consists of the following members:
- Presiding Officer
The presiding officer is the chairperson of the committee, who is required to be a senior strata female employer. If no such female is available, the employer can nominate a female officer from another branch, and if that cannot be satisfied, the employer can select a female from another workplace owned by him/her.
- External Member
It is required that one person in the ICC be from outside the workplace. He/she can be a person familiar with the predicaments related to sexual harassment or be a member of a non-governmental organisation related to women's issues.
- Employee Members
It is also mandated by the POSH Act that the ICC should include two or three employee members, preferably those who have a legal background or are familiar with women's issues. The employer is required to conduct regular sexual harassment workshops in order to familiarise the employees with the subject of sexual harassment. This ensures that if an employee is selected as a member of the ICC, they have some background knowledge.
Criteria for Membership Disqualification
According to the POSH Act, a person can be disqualified from the ICC on the following conditions:
1. If the person reveals confidential information related to the complaint,
2. If the person has been declared guilty of an offence or has an enquiry pending under any statute,
3. If the individual is the subject of a disciplinary investigation or has been found guilty of the same,
4. If the person has not acted in the public interest during his/her tenure as a member of the ICC.
If an employer does not constitute an ICC at the workplace, then he/she is liable to pay a fine of up to fifty thousand rupees. Repeated commission of the offence can make the employer liable to pay twice the fine and can also lead to the cancellation of the business license, approvals, etc., provided by the government. An employer should aim to create a healthy and safe working environment for all its employees. Employees at all levels should be made aware of the issues related to sexual harassment at work and should be sensitised towards the subject. It is the primary duty of the employer to ensure that all employees feel safe in the workplace so that the business succeeds.
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