The Asian College of Journalism re-commits itself to giving the highest priority to implementing in letter and in spirit the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, along with the relevant Rules and Notifications.
In keeping with the requirements of the law as well as best practice, the ACJ has developed and will put in place, under the guidance of retired Madras High Court Judge, Justice K. Chandru, a comprehensive programme and protocol to prevent, investigate, and penalize any form of sexual harassment at the College or sexual harassment that is in any manner associated with the College, under the terms laid down by the Act. The ACJ will make its internal policy and charter for the prohibition, prevention, and redressal of sexual harassment at the workplace and for promoting gender-sensitive safe spaces available to all its staff and students. It will organise awareness sessions at the start of the new academic year and at regular intervals for sensitising all staff and students to the provisions of the Act.
The ACJ will constitute a new and compact Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) with the following composition, as mandated by the Act: (a) a chairperson who shall be a woman employed at a senior level in the College; b) at least two members from among its staff who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge; and (c) one member from among non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment. The ACJ will also ensure that at least one-half of the total members so nominated will be women. The term of office of ICC members will be three years.
The new committee and protocol will, as soon as it is ready, replace the committee and procedure, as below, currently in place:
The Committee constituted at the Asian College of Journalism in conformity with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The ACJ is committed to providing a place of work and study free of sexual harassment, intimidation or exploitation. All members of the ACJ community, including those who are in temporary or short term positions are subject to these guidelines, and anyone violating them is subject to disciplinary action.
Any woman who is student of ACJ or employed for any work on regular, temporary, consultancy, ad hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through an agent with or without the knowledge of the employer, and may be working for remuneration or on a voluntary basis can give a complaint of sexual harassment to the committee constituted.
Participants at events organized by ACJ, including workshops and trainings, can also give a complaint if the act/s complained of occurred during the duration of the event, and the respondent is an employee of the organisation.
Sexual Harassment is defined as follows;
Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment would mean any one or more of the following unwelcome sexual acts, behaviour, gestures or comments (whether directly or by implication):
- Unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct, contact and advances of sexual nature:
Example: unwelcome physical intimacy such as pinching, inappropriate touching, brushing or patting, etc.
- Demand or request for sexual favours, directly or indirectly, including demands or requests made in person or through phones, sms, emails or any other mode of communication
- Making sexually coloured remarks, including explicit or sexist jokes and comments with the intention of harassing the woman
- Showing pornography – in the form of pictures, cartoons, videos, written material, emails etc.
- Note- The above definitions are not exhaustive and sexual harassment may cover many other acts that are of sexual nature or have the effect of creating a hostile working environment.
Sexual harassment would also include the following circumstances, where these occur in connection with any of the above acts or behaviours:
- Promise or preferential treatment in the person’s employment
- Interference with the person’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for the person.
- Threat about the person’s present or future employment status.
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect the person’s health or safety.
2. INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE ( ICC)
(a) ACJ has an internal complaints committee that is constituted to consider and redress complaints of sexual harassment.
(b) The names of members of the ICC, their contact details and their term are published by the organization in the organizational policy, internal circulars and further displayed at prominent places of the organization.
Composition of the Committee
The Committee at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) consists of members of the faculty, administrative staff, a lawyer and legal scholar, and a well known journalist. The members of the committee for the current academic year are:
Ms. Sudha Umapathy, Registrar, ACJ (Presiding officer of the committee)
Ms. Geeta Ramaseshan, Lawyer & Legal scholar,
Ms. Ramya Kannan, Chief of Bureau, The Hindu
Ms. Subhashini Dinesh, Assistant Professor, ACJ
Ms. Dhanya Skariachan, Faculty, ACJ
Mr. Sampath Kumar, Professor, ACJ
Mr. V. K. Raghunathan, Professor, ACJ
Mr. Ajit Bhaskaran, Associate Professor, ACJ
Ms. Lakshmi Ramji, Bursar, ACJ
Ms. Malini K. N., Senior Executive, Chairman’s Office, ACJ
Reports of sexual harassment shall be taken seriously and dealt with promptly. The specific action taken in any particular case depends upon the nature and gravity of the conduct reported. ACJ will respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals reporting or accused of sexual harassment to the extent reasonably possible. Contact email id of the committee email@example.com
Details relating to the procedure can be obtained from the Presiding Officer at ACJ.
3. PROCEDURE FOR MAKING A COMPLAINT
(a) Any woman may make a complaint of sexual harassment in writing to the ICC within three months from the date of the incident, and in case there is continuous harassment, within a period of three months from the date of the last incident.
If there is a delay beyond three months, the ICC may extend the time limit on being satisfied about the circumstances that prevented the complainant from filing a complaint within the prescribed period.
If the complaint is of a grave nature, the ICC may act on its own without constraint of time limit, or explanations about delay, complying with the highest standards of due diligence. However, in all cases when a delayed complaint is taken up, the Committee will explain its reasons in writing in its order, to justify doing so.
(b) The complainant must submit to the committee 6 copies of the complaint, along with supporting documents and list of witnesses with their names and contact details.
(c) Any ICC member charged with sexual harassment in a written complaint must step down as member during the inquiry into that complaint. An ad-hoc member shall be appointed in his/her place.
4. PROCEDURE AFTER RECEIVING COMPLAINT
(a) On receipt of a complaint, the ICC will record it in a register maintained for this purpose, and the Presiding Officer will call a meeting of the ICC for further action.
(b) The ICC shall prepare a prima facie report, with reasoned observations, recording the following:
- Whether the complaint is one of sexual harassment,
- Whether it would constitute sexual harassment at the workplace, if proved
- Whether the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC
- Any recommendations pending inquiry
The ICC shall intimate the employer in case a prima facie case is found to be made out.
(c) Within seven working days from the date of the receipt of the complaint, the ICC will send to the respondent a copy of the complaint and the documents received from the complainant.
(d) The respondent is required to submit, within ten days of receipt of the complaint a reply to the complaint along with a list of supporting documents, and the names and addresses of witnesses.
In case there is a request from the complainant before initiating the inquiry, the ICC shall take steps to conciliate the matter between the complainant and the respondent. The ICC will exercise caution and due diligence to ensure that the conciliation is not adverse to the complainant.
Conciliation cannot be made on the basis of monetary settlement.
If a settlement is arrived at, the ICC has to record the same and forward it to the employer for necessary action, and give copies of the settlement to the complainant and the respondent.
6. PROCEDURE FOR CONDUCTING INQUIRY
(a) In case no conciliation is arrived at, the ICC shall then initiate an inquiry and submit a report within three months. The ICC has the same powers as are provided for civil courts under the Code of Civil Procedure for summoning persons and documents, and may set the procedure for conduct of proceedings.
The employer will provide all necessary assistance to the ICC including securing the attendance of the respondent as the case may be.
The employer will also make available to the ICC all necessary facilities to the ICC for dealing with the complaint.
(b) Both parties have a right to produce oral or documentary evidence in their favour. The witnesses maybe examined, cross examined by both the parties and questioned by the ICC. The ICC may, after the completion of the production of evidence permit both the parties to file written briefs of their respective case, if they so desire.
(c) Both parties have an option of taking assistance of a next friend of their choice, except legal counsel. The complainant/respondent shall intimate to the ICC the name and particulars of the person whom she/he desires to be the assistant. The ICC has a right, with reasons to be recorded in writing, to reject the particular assistant proposed.
(d) The ICC shall maintain a record sheet of the proceedings on each day of inquiry and give a copy of the same to both the parties.
(e) The members of the ICC, administration and employer shall maintain strict confidentiality at all times, of the identity of the complainant and the respondent, details in the complaint and the evidence produced, as well as any other particulars that would identify the complainant and details of the incident.
(f) The ICC shall have the right to terminate the inquiry proceedings or to give an ex parte decision on the complaint, if the complainant or respondent fails to present herself or himself without sufficient cause for three consecutive hearings convened by the Presiding Officer, after giving a seven days’ notice to the party concerned.
7. INQUIRY REPORT
The ICC shall forward to the employer the inquiry report within ten days of completion of the inquiry. The report shall include:
- Synopsis of the complaint
- Defense of the Respondent
- An assessment of the evidence
- Reasoning in support of the findings
- Findings of the committee;
- Recommendations of penalties in case the allegations against the respondent are proved
8. INQUIRY NOT TO BE INVALIDATED ON ACCOUNT OF DELAY
If there is a delay in one or more of the stages in the inquiry procedures, on account of reasonable grounds or circumstances beyond the control of any of the parties or the ICC, the inquiry must continue and remains valid. It is important that the reason for delay be noted in the minutes of the inquiry meeting as well as in the final opinion and later, in the annual report submitted to the employer.
9. ACTION BY THE EMPLOYER
(a) The ICC may provide interim reliefs and direct the employer to do the following;
paid leave for a period of one month to the complainant;
restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the complaint;
restrain the respondent from supervising the complainant’s activity
or any other relief that the ICC deems fit, on its own initiative or upon the request of the complainant.
(b) Where the ICC arrives at a conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has been proved, it shall recommend to the employer to take any action, including a written apology, warning, reprimand, censure, withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise, payment of compensation, terminating the respondent from service or undergoing a counseling sessions or carrying out community service.
(c) The nature of action recommended should be proportionate to the gravity of the incident. (d) The ICC may also recommend payment of compensation to the complainant by the respondent and/or the organization.
The following factors shall be taken into account in determining the compensation:
- the mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the aggrieved person;
- the loss in the career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment;
- medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical treatment or counseling;
- feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in installments.
Any person aggrieved (complainant or respondent) from the recommendations related to the quantum or nature of penalties made by the ICC, or the non-implementation of such recommendations by the employer, may file an appeal to the Chairman within three months of the recommendations made by the ICC.
12. MEETINGS OF ICC
(a) The ICC is mandated to meet to hold inquiries into complaints of sexual harassment. The ICC will meet at least three times a year in addition to meetings held for inquiry.
(b) The quorum for the purpose of all meetings of the ICC including inquiries is 3.
(c) Any decision should be carried out by simple majority of those present and voting. The external member shall have the casting vote in the event of equality of votes.
13. ANNUAL REPORTING
The ICC must submit an annual report to the employer in the month of April. The annual report should contain the following details:
- number of complaints of sexual harassment received in the year;
- number of complaints disposed of during the year;
- number of cases pending for more than ninety days;
- nature of action taken by the employer.
14. ROLE OF THE EMPLOYER
It is the duty of the employer to:
(a) provide assistance to the ICC for conducting inquiries and holding their periodic meetings
(b) act upon the recommendations of the ICC
(c) provide support to the complainant to initiate action under Indian Penal Code or under any other law if the complainant desires to do so.
( d) provide a safe working environment at the workplace
(e) display at any conspicuous place in the workplace the penal consequences of sexual harassments and the details of the ICC
(f) organize workshops and awareness programs at regular intervals for sensitizing employees with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013
(g) treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under its service rules and initiate action for such misconduct
(h) monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC.
(i) include in the Annual Report of ACJ the number of cases of sexual harassment filed in the year and their disposal.