Most govt offices don’t have complaints panel
Kolkata, 6 December
The uproar over the Tejpal case or the Justice A K Ganguly case notwithstanding, most of the state government offices in West Bengal, including the state secretariat Nabanna, do not have the mandatory internal complaints committee (ICC) in place to deal with allegations of sexual harassment at workplace.
In the very few government offices or departments where ICCs were set up post the Supreme Court notifying the Vishakha Guidelines in 1997, the committees now lie defunct as those have not been reconstituted all these years after several of their members either retired from service or got transferred elsewhere.
The Statesman on Friday spoke to several women employees at the state secretariat Nabanna; while many of them said that they had never heard of any such committee in their departments, some said that there had been such a mechanism in the past but there was no information about its present status.
“I am into service for 14 years now but have never heard of an internal complaints committee in my department,” said a woman staff member in the Public Works Department.
A women officer in the Information and Cultural Affairs Department said: “I don’t remember the exact nomenclature but a committee was constituted in our department a few years ago to deal with such complaints. Three-four senior women staff were its members but I am not aware of its present status.”
Both the ICC and the LCC should have women as majority members. In West Bengal, none of the 19 districts have a LCC in place yet.
Officials in the state Home Department conceded that there have been some lacunae as regards forming the internal complaints committee and the local complaints committee. “Internal committees were formed in some departments a few years ago but it is true that they now exist only on paper,” said a senior official. “We will soon reconstitute and rejuvenate them.”