By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 February 2013
VADODARA: Despite the recent focus on exploitation of women in Indian society, home and workplaces, many offices of Gujarat government, including police force and labour department and also the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) have not bothered to implement the Supreme Court (SC) guidelines on establishing committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.
Stating this, Vadodara-based trade union Jyoti Karamchari Mandal has issued notices to the state DGP, labour commissioner and VMC commissioner, asking them to do the needful at the earliest. A copy of the notice has also been sent to commissioner, Vadodara Police.
“The 15-year-old Vishakha committee guidelines clearly state that a complaint redressal mechanism concerning all sexual harassment cases, should exist in all government, private organizations, but our inquiries have revealed that most of the government offices are not even aware of this aspect, forget about implementing it. We are systematically approaching government offices in Gujarat in the next few days before taking legal recourse,” said Rohit Prajapati, general secretary of the mandal and an RTI activist.
VMC commissioner, Ashwini Kumar said that a panel does exist in the corporation, but he would further inquire whether it is functioning according to the SC guidelines. “A senior class I woman officer heads the committee as per the rule,” he added. DCP (admin) Prabhat Patel of Vadodara police said he would have to enquire whether any such panel existed in the force, here. “However, I do know that there has been no such complaint of sexual harassment within the force in Vadodara,” he asserted.
Prajapati said VMC had not advertised about the existence of the panel by putting notices in the main office or outside the offices of senior officials, including the mayor. “These panels have to have 50% women members and a member from an outside agency or NGO. The police force do not have any such committee at all.”
Earlier, several women NGOs had held a meeting with 20 government offices under the aegis of district collector, only to find out that except for the pollution control board, no other department had such a panel. Though, action was promised within 10 days, only the education department has so far bothered to set up the committee, NGO Sahiyar’s Trupti Shah stated.
The MS University (MSU), too, is yet to set up a committee as per the SC guidelines.
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