2013 Justice Verma panel report & sexual harassment law

2013 Justice Verma panel report & sexual harassment law

What is Important?UPSC perspective:Prelims: MeToo movementMains:The newscard talks about adequacy of present instrument to curb sexual harassment at workplaces based on Verma Committee recommendations of 2013

Why in News?

The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.

What is MeToo ?

*The Me Too movement, with many local and international alternatives, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
* The MeToo campaign began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017 amid the Harvey Weinstein, where the noted Hollywood producer has been accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.
*The movement gained steam in India after former AIB comedian Utsav Chakraborty was accused of sexual harassment by a writer and fellow comic, who also said that the company had not taken any action despite her complaints.
*Following the incident, AIB founding member and CEO Tanmay Bhat “stepped away” from his role, while another founding member Gursimran Khamba, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct, has been asked to go on temporary leave.
*Next in line was Queen director Vikas Bahl, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of Phantom Films, which has now been disbanded.
* On Monday, the swell of accusations knocked on the door of Union Minister MJ Akbar, with six women journalists accusing him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour when he worked as a newspaper editor.

Justice Verma Committee Recommendations:

*The panel was formed in the aftermath Nirbhaya gangrape Case in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
* It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms.  
*The Committee was of the view that rape and sexual assault are not merely crimes of passion but an expression of power & recommended that the gradation of sexual offences should be retained in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).  
*The Committee recommended that non-penetrative forms of sexual contact should be regarded as sexual assault &  the offence is categorized as defined under Section 354 of the IPC etc.

Sexual harassment:

 *Some of the key recommendations made by the Committee on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 that is pending in Parliament are provided below:
*Domestic workers should be included within the purview of the Bill. 
*Under the Bill the complainant and the respondent are first required to attempt conciliation. This is contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan which aimed to secure a safe workplace to women. 
*The employer should pay compensation to the woman who has suffered sexual harassment.
*The Bill requires the employer to institute an internal complaints committee to which complaints must be filed. Such an internal committee defeats the purpose of the Bill and instead, there should be an Employment Tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
Onus on employer
*The Committee said any unwelcome behaviour should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
*The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable:
*if he or she facilitated sexual harassment,
*permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic,
*where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint
*if employer fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal.
*The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant.

2013 Justice Verma panel report & sexual harassment law 2013 Justice Verma panel report & sexual harassment law Reviewed by The Hindu Current Affairs on October 15, 2018 Rating: 5

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