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Issue Circular On Sexual Harassment At Workplace Act To Colleges: Madras HC To State

The Madras High Court recently directed the Department of Higher Education and Directorate of Collegiate Education to issue a circular on implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to all colleges.

“This Court feels that such complaints received from the employees are to be dealt without any delay and the issue has to be sensitized to the subordinate officials to deal with the complaints in an appropriate manner. In this regard, this Court feels that it is appropriate to direct the Secretary to Department of Higher Education and Directorate of Collegiate Education to issue appropriate circular with regard to the implementation of the Act to all the colleges and so as to prevent any such delay in future,” Justice S.M. Subramaniam observed.

The Court was hearing a Petition filed by an Assistant Professor of Presidency College, who had alleged sexual harassment at the hands of another Assistance Professor. On receipt of the complaint, the Principal of the College had constituted a committee comprising the Head of Departments of the same college. The constitution of this committee was alleged to be in violation of the provisions of the Act by the Petitioner, as the Committee did not have an outsider as its member.

During the hearing, the Court agreed with these contentions, and took up the matter with the Principal, who later reconstituted the Committee. Appreciating the promptness of the College Principal, Justice Subramaniam then observed, “This Court is satisfied with the actions taken by the Principal of the College. Considering the fact that this is the first occasion that the college is dealing with, the provisions of this Act, the delay happened can be pardoned. This Court appreciates the quick action initiated by the Principal, Presidency College, in this issue and place the same on record. This appreciation shall be entered in his service records.”

It then directed the Registry to communicate the order to the Secretary to Department of Higher Education and Directorate of Collegiate Education ““to issue appropriate circular with regard to the implementation of the Act to all the colleges, in order to implement the provisions of the said Act in its letter and spirit, while dealing with the complaint regarding the sexual harassment at work places”.

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