--Internal Committees are Autonomous Legal Entity, yet Not the Disciplining Authority—
Internal Committees are constituted by Every Employer of a Workplace in India, by an Order in writing under Section-4 of SHWW (P, P &R) Act 2013. Thus, Each Internal Committee is an Autonomous & Independent Legal Body/Entity, permanent & Perpetual in existence. Constitution of ICs, at each Workplace of Employers, must be notified on Notice Boards of each Establishment for information of Employees & Others and for proper and faithful compliance.
Internal Committees are empowered with Authority & Powers of Civil Courts to be exercised with due discretion by IC Members during Inquiry Proceedings to “Ascertain the Facts/Truth of the Sexual Harassment Complaints filed by Aggrieved Women Complainants.
Internal Committees have 24 Duties, Responsibilities & Role envisaged in SHWW (P, P &R) Act of 2013, major amongst them are, conducting 1. Conciliation; 2. Inquiry into SH Complainant in accordance with Twin Principles of Natural Justice & Procedures laid down; 3. Determining Compensation claimed by the Complainant; 4, Recommending on Pleas for Her or Employee-Respondent’s Deployment elsewhere during ongoing Inquiry; 5. Giving all reasonable Opportunity to Complainant and Respondent, both to prove/ substantiate their Case including allowing Cross-Examination; 6. Being Fair, Just & Proper & refraining from Arbitrariness, Bias, Favouritism, Getting Influenced by Internal or External force/interference/ pressures, whatsoever; 7. Writing Inquiry Reports with Conclusive & Definite Findings which are Final & Binding on Employers; 8. Filing IC’s Annual Report (Section-21) for each Calendar Year before District Officer (Section-5); and inter alia 9. Co-Creating with Employer & Employees, a Safe & Secure Workplace
Yet, Internal Committees are not the Disciplining Authority and therefore are Not Authorized/Permitted by Laws to take Disciplinary Action-Steps namely i) Framing & Issuing Charge-Sheet/Show Cause Notice/Explanation seeking Letters to Employee-Respondent or the Woman-Complainant when her SH Allegations/Complaint are found by the IC to be False, Frivolous or Malicious (Section-14) Or ii) Award proportionate Punishment when the IC finds SH allegations/Complaint “True” or Condone otherwise.
Only Employers or Individuals duly Authorized by Employers delegation of Powers, are Competent as Disciplining or Punishing Authority to take Disciplinary Action-Steps.
It will be worthwhile for Internal Committees to educate themselves about their 24 Duties and about their Authority/Powers.
Harsh K Sharan,
Spl Educator PoSH Programs, Kritarth Consulting Team