Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DO NOT BE AFRAID , DO NOT TOLERATE AND NEVER IGNORE ….


                                                                       


*Photo source .( see Foot Note )

DO NOT BE AFRAID , DO NOT TOLERATE  AND NEVER  IGNORE ….

Long Back a Drunken employee, physically assaulted a very senior , Honest and courageous officer of his Bank at a function organized in a Hotel. Such physical Assaults outside the work premises were not uncommon in industrial undertakings . Most of them went unreported .  But In the aforesaid  case , the bank decided to create a history .A sheer misbehavior and physical assault under the influence of liquor was dealt under the provisions of Bipartite Settlement applicable in Banks and the employee was dismissed after the conclusion of a proper Departmental Inquiry .Aggrieved with this punishment , the employee approached a Court wherefrom he got the relief of getting his dismissal quashed on the ground that the misbehavior had taken place in a Hotel and not inside the Bank premises or at the working place . The court rightly held that the provisions of the Bipartite Settlement were applicable to misbehaving employees provided it had taken place inside the Bank premises . Aggrieved with the Judgment of the court, the bank approached High Court  where  from a clear direction emerged . It took the bank about 3 years to prove that the Venue ( Hotel ) engaged for the Bank function was an extension of Bank premises in absence of any defined provision in the Bipartite settlement .I quote the operative PARA

“ After careful scrutiny of records and the provisions of the Bipartite Settlements of the Bank, this court  has come to the conclusion that the Hotel in the instant case is an extension of Premises . Since the Bank has paid rent for the official function and only Bank Employees and the customers have come for Business Development Function , Every statute , ruling ,Paras of Bipartite Settlement governing Misbehavior inside the Bank premises applies to the Hotel premises taken on rent for a Business development function by the Bank . Hence the action of the bank in dismissing the employee after proper inquiry is lawful and Justified .”

The order of the lower court was accordingly set aside and the punishment granted by the Bank was restored. The message was clear and loud . Misbehavior in the shape of physical assault outside the premises was also punishable .I hardly heard any such instance of physical assault or gross misbehavior by employees outside premises at least in Banking Industry .

I have Quoted this Judgment to bring home a point which our sisters , Daughters and women folk need to know in respect of Sexual Harassment at Work place. The recent  incident involving Tarun Tejpal   and many more such incidents  establish that sexual Harassment of women at work place is a serious problem in the country . Had not the work place been broadly defined by the new provisions , the victim of the  Tarun Tejpal incident needed to fight a long legal battle to establish that the Goa Hotel or its lift was also an extension of work place .
The Sexual harassment Act of 2013 ( Which also incorporates 1997 Vishaka case Guidelines of supreme court on this aspect ) goes heavily in favour of working women as working place now means actual work place or Inside the bus taken to go to work place or for returning from the work place and any extension of work place ( As in the Bank case cited above ).

As per The Sexual Harassment Act of 2013 ,Sexual harassment also includes

(a)        Explicit or Implied promise of preferential Treatment in employment on account of a sexual favour .
(b)        Explicit or Implied threat of detrimental Treatment in employment on account of a denial of sexual favour.
(c)        Humiliating treatment that affect her work.
(d)        Intimidation at work.
(e)        Physical contact and advances .
(f)        Sexually coloured remarks .
(g)        Showing pornographic material/ Literature .
(h)        Any Verbal conduct of sexual nature.

SO .

(1 )KNOW WHAT CONSTITUTES SEXUAL HAREASSMENT AT WORK PLACE UNDER THE NEW LAW.

(2) NEVER BE AFRAID OF REPORTING ANY IMPROPER BEHAVIOUR . DO NOT FEAR, BEAR OR IGNORE .MANY A COLOSSAL STRUCTURES HAVE CRUMBLED TO DUST UNDER A SMALL BUT TRUTHFUL COMPLAINT FROM AN AGGRIEVED  WOMAN .

(3) DEMAND COMPLAINT REDRESSAL MACHINERY IN YOUR ORGANIZATION . IT IS MANADATORY AS PER SUPREME COURT GUIDELINES .SEEK DETAILS OF THE MEMBERS . AS PER GUIDELINES THE COMMITTEE MUST BE CHAIRED BY A WOMAN AND MUST HAVE A CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVE. AT LEAST HALF OF THE MEMBERS OF THIS COMMITTEE SHOULD BE WOMEN . THIS IS APPLICABLE TO ALL ORGANIZATIONS , REGISTERED UNDERTAKINGS ,POLITICAL PARTIES , NGOs AND TRUSTS .

(4) KNOW THAT THE EMPLOYER WHO FAILS TO COMPLY WITH NEW PROVISIONS FACES A PENALITY OF RS 50,000/= ON ACCOUNT OF FIRST OFFENCE AND DOUBLE THE AMOUNT ON SECOND OFFENCE OR THEREAFTER. .THE LICENSE TO OPERATE CAN ALSO BE WITHDRAWN FOR REPEATED VIOLATIONS OF THE REVISED GUIDELINES .

(5 ) DISCLOSURE OF THE NAME OF THE COMPLAINANT BY ANY PERSON OR ORGANIZATION OR COMMITTEE OR A MEMBER SHALL ATTRACT ACTION UNDER THE NEW GUIDELINES . YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO PRIVACY AS WELL.


DO THESE LATEST GUIDELINES NEED ANY FURTHER AMMENDMENT ?
Yes I do believe that some amendments need to be made to the provisions . My suggestions are as under :-

(1 )I think the room for conciliation needs to be scrapped in the New Provisions . This appears to be a little detrimental to the interests of the Women .  Recently we came across an incident wherein a Member of parliament  from Kerala  went Scot free for his  alleged Misbehavior with an  Actress  in a function . The actress was made to withdraw her complaint after what was called a public apology from the MP. She had to approach a police station as the Political Party to which the MP belonged had not constituted any committee as per Supreme Court guidelines for redressal of complaints with regard to Sexual Harassment at Work. I doubt whether political parties across the country comply with the new provisions of supreme Court Guidelines .

(2 ) I believe guidelines with regard to the display of statutory notice boards ( as to what constitutes Sexual harassment and the punishments thereof as also the names of Grievance Redressal committee members and their addresses ) are still not complied with in most of the organizations . A statute needs to be created for punishments and fines for Non display . The display of these boards at work places shall not only help in warding off culprits but also in informing and educating women employees as also in enthusing confidence amongst them for reporting acts of Sexual Harassment .

(3 ) Where the employee is forced to go to a police station ( for lodging her complaint) on account of Non existence of the Grievance Redressal Machinery in her organization for acts of sexual misbehavior with her , the fine of rupees fifty thousands should go to the aggrieved employee only .

(4 ) Government must also create a  robust Monitoring apparatus at National / Apex level as also at state level to monitor the disposal of complaints by women employees to their employers . This apparatus should have powers to deal with recalcitrant organizations . The law provides punishments like withholding promotion ,transfer and termination to be awarded to culprits by the Grievance Redressal committee. Are these awarded ?

And Surprisingly, It is Manu only who is vociferous on punishing Culprits who are unjust to women. I quote Manusmriti ..
“ The gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Rakshasas, the bird and snake deities even give the enjoyments due from them only, if they are tormented by the fear of punishment.”
( Chapter VII canto 23 )
“ The whole world is kept in order by punishment, for a guiltless man is hard to find; through fear of punishment the whole world yields the enjoyments which it owes.”
( Chapter VII canto 22 )
“ They declare that king to be a just inflicter of punishment, who is truthful, who acts after due consideration, who is wise, and who knows (the respective value of) virtue, pleasure and wealth.. . A king who properly inflicts (punishment), prospers with respect to (those) three (means of happiness); but he who is voluptuous, partial, and deceitful will be destroyed, even through the (unjust) punishment (which he inflicts ).”
( Chapter VII canto 26 and 27 )

“Offering presents to a woman, romping with her, touching her ornaments and dress, sitting with her on a bed, all (these acts) are considered adulterous acts (samgrahana).”
( Chapter VIII canto 357 )

“. Those who rape or molest women or incite them into adultery should be given harshest punishment that creates fear among others to even think of such a crime.”
(Chapter VIII canto 352)

“ Be it the father, mother, teacher, friend, wife, son or priest, one who conducts a crime is punishable by the ruler.”
(Chapter VIII canto 335)

I end this post with lines from a poem of urdu poet Sahir Ludhianavi appearing in his Book Talkhiyaan..

Madad chaahati hai ye hava ki Beti
Yashodaa ki ham_jins Radha ki Beti
Payambar ki ummat zulekhaa ki Beti
Sanakhwaan e Taqdees e Mashriq Kahaan hain?
Jinhe Naaz hai hind par Woh kahan hain ?…………………………

( Sahir Ludhianavi )

I have also rendered the above lines to simple English as under ..

“ Help ! ” cries this daughter of EVE ,
The like of Yashoda ! A Daughter of Radha !
From Prophet’s progeny ! A daughter of Zuleikha !
Where are you ? O you who cry loud about the purity of east ?
Where are you ? You who feel proud of the ways of the orient ?

( Autar Mota 04.12.2013 )

PS
( This is not my Photograph  . I need to thank the person who has clicked it and uploaded it on internet. I do not know the source or his name  so that i could  thank him personally . I assure the uploader that the photograph shall not be used for any commercial purposes .I am using it for a very very noble cause. )

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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