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Constitute Local Complaints Committee To Probe Sexual Harassment Against School Teacher: Orissa HC to Dist. Magistrate

The Orissa High Court has directed the Collector-cum-District Magistrate, Ganjam to constitute a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) that would investigate complaints of sexual harassment where the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) has not been constituted.

The Court was hearing a Petition filed by a lady teacher working at the Project Upper Primary School, Lachhamanpalli, Aska in the District of Ganjam.

She had claimed to be harassed by the headmaster of the institution, citing various instances of stalking and intimidation. She had also alleged that the accused had filmed her inappropriately and had posed to her “sexually colored questions”.

The headmaster, she submitted, had been interfering with, creating intimidating  and offensive work environment for the petitioner so also affecting her safety in the said school resulting the petitioner was forced to remain idle thereby prevented from discharging her lawful duties, when her grievances went abortive“.

The Petitioner had further alleged that State authorities had failed to act on her complaint alleging sexual harassment at workplace and contended, …the employer of the petitioner has miserably failed to provide assistance to the petitioner to initiate action under the Indian Penal Code against the perpetrator/Opp. Party No.-7. And to the misfortune of the petitioner, the police also didn’t show its promptitude to proceed in accordance with law though the sum and substance of the incident was communicated to it.

The District Education Officer and the Block Education Officer, she submitted, had also failed in their duty to adhere to the procedure prescribed by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

During the hearing, Justice S.K. Mishra took note of the submission made by the School and Mass Education Department that no ICC has been formed and therefore, directed an LCC to be constituted within a period of 10 days.

The Court further ordered, “The petitioner may file the complaint before the Local Complaints Committee, if so advised. If such a complaint is filed, the same shall be forwarded to the District Committee or Internal Complaints Committee. The complaint, if filed by the petitioner, shall be considered after affording reasonable opportunity of hearing to all the parties and appropriate orders shall be passed by the Internal Complaints Committee.”

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