The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Ms Swati Maliwal on Monday submitted a report to the Delhi Government pointing out the dismal implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) law in the Capital.
In her report, she stated, one of the major aspects of the law is constitution and proper functioning of Local Complaints Committee (LCC) in every district which are mandated to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ has not been constituted due to having less than ten workers or if the complaint is against the employer himself.
In order to ascertain the status of Local Complaint Committees (LCC) in Delhi, notices were issued by the Commission to all the District Magistrates in Delhi seeking specific information regarding LCC in their district.
“It was observed that only 40 complaints were received by all the LCC in the past 3 years from 2019-2021. For instance, South-West District dealt with only 3 cases in the last 3 years and West District did not deal with any cases at all,” she said.
Further, even the small number of complaints received was not being dealt with in a time bound manner.
Besides, it was observed that there were serious problems in the constitution of the committees.
While the law mandates the Chairperson of these committees to be nominated amongst eminent women in the field of social work, many districts were not following this.
Most districts did not have external members from reputed NGOs. For instance, it was observed that all members in the Committee of North-West District were government employees.
Further, it was observed that the committees have not been provided proper dedicated office space, budget, and staff. This cripples their functioning.
Like, the South, West and Shahdara Districts have informed that there is no dedicated room or staff allocated for the functioning of the committees.
The East District, Shahdara District and West District have informed that they have no budget allotted whatsoever. The New Delhi District has stated that the expenditure of the LCCs is booked under ‘Office Expenses’ as and when required. The committees cannot be expected to function properly without a dedicated budget for their functioning, Maliwal stated.
The DCW chief also mentioned, “Also, there is a lack of publicity about the existence of these committees. A complainant presently by and large does not know whom to approach for raising the complaint with the LCC.”
The commission has given recommendations that an efficient complaint receiving mechanism must be set up online as well as offline to increase accessibility of people all over Delhi to register complaints pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace.
The commission has stated that low number of complaints registered could also be due to lack of awareness of LCC and other provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Also, the commission has recommended that the State government must raise awareness amongst the public against sexual harassment and the provisions of the Act.
Maliwal stated, “Sexual harassment at workplace is a crime that needs to be dealt with seriously. The sorry state of affairs of the implementation of the sexual harassment at workplace law in the Capital is distressing. We have given a detailed report to the Women and Child Development Ministry of the Delhi Government and expect urgent action on the same.”
She added, “The Local Complaint Committees must function in an independent and vibrant manner. To ensure the same, they should be properly constituted and allocated dedicated staff, budgets, and office space. Further, the Government must ensure adequate publicity to the provisions of the sexual harassment at workplace law and the local complaints committees. I expect an Action Taken report in the matter in 20 days.”