Sexual Harassment Policy
All cases pertaining to sexual harassment will be referred to Vedica’s Internal Complaints’ Committee that shall begin the due redressal process with immediate effect. Please go through the following Sexual Harassment Policy thoroughly:
The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women : Policy Against Sexual Harassment
Vedica is committed to creating an environment that is free of hostility or prejudice towards any individual or community. Vedica prohibits discrimination, inappropriate conduct, or harassment, based on a person’s gender, religion, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, colour, national origin, veteran status, marital status, race, ancestry, linguistic or any other legally protected characteristic. Vedica holds that all persons have the right to exist in an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is defined as any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is directed towards an individual against his/ her will or consent. Consent is not constituted if the individual is deemed unable to make a reasonable judgment about the nature of the activity (i.e., s/he is on medication, is intoxicated, or is mentally disabled).
In compliance with the mandate of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013, VSPW adopts the present Policy and Rules and Procedures for the prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women at its workplace. The same is termed as VSPW Policy Against Sexual Harassment of Women.
I. Title and Extent
- These Rules shall be called the “Vedica- Policy Against Sexual Harassment of Men/Women Rules and Procedures”.
- These Rules and Procedures are in compliance with the legal mandate of The Sexual Harassment of Men/Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 and The Sexual Harassment of Men/Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013.
- These Rules shall be applicable to all complaints to the VSPW- Committee Against Sexual Harassment of Men/Women at the Programme.
II. Definition- in these Rules, unless the context otherwise requires
- “Committee” means the Vedica Committee Against Sexual Harassment.
- “Aggrieved Man/Woman/Person” means in relation to Vedica, any man/woman, of any age, whether a Scholar, an employee of Vedica or not, as defined herein, who makes a complaint of sexual harassment against the Respondent, under the VSPW- Policy Against Sexual Harassment.
- “Appeals Committee” means a committee constituted under as Rule XVII.
- “Faculty/ Scholar/ Consultant/ Employee” means any person employed at any workplace of Vedica, studying at Vedica, employed for any work on regular, temporary, ad-hoc, contractual or daily wage basis, either directly, or by or through any agency (including a contractor), with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis, or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are expressed or implied, and includes a person employed at the grade of a Director, Manager, Coordinator, Officer, Associate, Executive Secretary, support staff, whether employed as a temporary, casual, consultant, probationer, trainee, or by any other name called, including employees of Partners of VSPW who report to VSPW under specific projects or activities.
- “Committee” means the Vedica Committee Against Sexual Harassment constituted under Rule IV for purposes of prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of men/women at the Vedica.
- Outsider means any person who is not an employee of VSPW, and includes but is not limited to:
- any contractor or person providing residential, food, courier, transport, office supplies, or any other facilities to Vedica
- visitor to any of the offices of Vedica,
- participants attending a seminar, workshop, training programme, meeting, or any other event or programme organised by Vedica.
- Partner Institutions means any NGO, private sector corporation, or government body, or any other group or organisation, with which VSPW enters into an agreement, or collaborates with, or has a working relationship with, in furtherance of its objectives, and includes representatives of such institutions.
- “Policy against Sexual Harassment” means “VSPW- Policy against Sexual Harassment of Men/Women”.
- “Respondent” means any person against whom the aggrieved man/woman has made a complaint of sexual harassment under Rule VI, and includes but is not limited to a/ an Scholar/employee of VSPW (sub clause (4) of Rule II), an outsider (sub-clause (8) of Rule II), or any other person.
- “Sexual Harassment of a man/woman” means – includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:
- physical contact or advances; or
- demand or request for sexual favours; or
- making sexually coloured remarks; or
- showing of pornography; or
- any other unwelcome, physical, or verbal, or non-verbal conduct, of a sexual nature, or sexually determined behaviour, including but not limited to, loaded comments, jokes, letters, phone calls, emails, SMS, Twitter or any other form of internet or electronic communication, gestures, lurid stares, spreading rumours, physical contact, stalking, sounds or display of a derogatory nature, deprecatory or denigrating remarks or conduct based on gender identity and directed towards men/women
- any unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal act or conduct of a sexual nature, or sexually determined behaviour, which amounts to:
- implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in a person’s employment; or
- implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in their employment; or
- implied or explicit threat with regard to their present or future employment status; or
- which has the purpose or effect of interfering with or interferes with a person’s work, or performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; or
- when submission to any of the above conduct is made a term or condition of employment, participation or evaluation of a person’s engagement in any activity of the VSPW. - any conduct of a sexual nature that is likely to affect their mental, physiological, emotional or physical health or safety;
- Workplace means- All the venues of Vedica- classes, workspaces/ offices of the Vedica located within, including its head office at New Delhi, any other temporary, or permanent, branch or unit, established by Vedica, any office of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), or private corporation, or a government institution, which are partner institutions of Vedica as defined herein, any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of work/employment including any transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such journey, for purposes of trainings, meetings, workshops etc.
III. Duties and Responsibilities at Vedica
Vedica expects all Scholars/employees to report cases of inappropriate behaviour to the Vedica Internal Complaints Committee Against Sexual Harassment of Men/Women at the Programme to redress the harassment cases. It is unlawful and a violation of this policy to retaliate against anyone who in good faith reports inappropriate behaviour makes a complaint of alleged harassment or discrimination or cooperates in an investigation. This policy applies to all Vedica employees and Scholars, whether they are in the Programme, work, they are away at work, or they are attending organisation-sponsored social events or similar activities connected with their employment/Programme. This policy also prohibits harassment of Vedica employees/ Scholars by anyone, including any supervisor, faculty, co-worker, vendor, partner, client or customer. Vedica undertakes to provide all necessary facilities to enable the aggrieved man/woman, to attend, and to participate in the proceedings before the VSPW- Committee Against Sexual Harassment of Men/Women and also Provide assistance to the aggrieved man/woman if she wishes to lodge a complaint in relation to an incident of sexual harassment which constitutes an offence under the IPC (Under Sections 294, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 375, or 509 IPC), or any other law for the time being in force, including providing support or assistance that he/she may require in his/her circumstances.
Where the respondent is an employee of a Partner Institution, Vedica shall provide meaningful assistance and support to the employee in seeking redress for an incident of sexual harassment.
Vedica assures that the filing of a complaint shall not adversely affect the terms and conditions of work of the aggrieved Scholar/man/woman or in any other way alter the conditions of work of the aggrieved Scholar/man/woman or witnesses concerned, to their prejudice, as a consequence of filing a complaint or participating in the inquiry. It further assures that no adverse or retaliatory action, such as transfer, loss of seniority, suspension, change in employment status, dismissal, intimidation, harassment etc. is taken against the employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or against any person for supporting a complaint of sexual harassment.
Vedica shall ensure the confidentiality and protection of the identity and address of the aggrieved Scholar/man/woman, respondent and witnesses, is maintained and the same is not subject to disclosure.
Vedica shall also encourage that all its Partner Institutions, receiving funds or grants or expert assistance from Vedica, to formulate a policy against Sexual Harassment and institute the Committee Against Sexual Harassment mechanism at their Programme/workplace in accordance with VSPW Sexual Harassment of Men/Women at the Programme/ Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.
IV. Vedica Internal Complaints Committee
Vedica has reconstituted its Committee Against Sexual Harassment effective from August 01, 2019 and the new committee shall hold the office for one year, i.e. till 30th June, 2020, in line with the rules of the said Act.
V. Functions of the Vedica Internal Complaints Committee
A complaint of sexual harassment shall be made to the Committee by the aggrieved Scholar/man/woman in writing. The aggrieved person may present his/her written complaint to any member of the Committee; or the same may be sent electronically to the official email id of the Committee. However, a signed and dated copy of the complaint shall be presented to the Committee, by the complainant, prior to the commencement of proceedings by the Committee.
A complaint of sexual harassment shall be filed by the aggrieved person within a period of three months from the date of the incident and, in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of the last incident.
Provided that if the Committee is satisfied that the circumstances were such that they prevented the aggrieved person from filing the complaint within the limitation period, the Committee may extend the time limit for a further period of three months, and record its reasons in writing.
Conciliation: The Committee may, only if a written request is made by the aggrieved person, before initiating an inquiry into the complaint, take steps towards conciliation between the aggrieved person and the respondent. Provided that under no circumstances shall a monetary settlement be made the basis of such a conciliation between the parties. The settlement arrived at through conciliation shall be recorded by the Committee and the same forwarded to the Dean, to take action according to the recommendation. Copies of the settlement recorded shall be provided by the Committee to the aggrieved person and the respondent. Where a settlement is reached, through conciliation, no further inquiry shall be conducted by the Committee. Provided that where the aggrieved person informs the Committee, that any term of condition of the settlement arrived at under sub-clause (2) of this Rule has not been complied with by the respondent, the Committee shall proceed to make an inquiry into the complaint, or forward the complaint to the police, as requested by the aggrieved person.
Inquiry into Complaint:
- The Committee shall while inquiring into complaints of sexual harassment follow procedures in conformity with the principles of natural justice and gender sensitivity.
- During inquiry into a complaint, a minimum of three members of the Committee including the Presiding Officer must be present.
- At the time of filing the complaint with the Committee, the aggrieved person shall submit six copies of his/her complaint, along with supporting documents and names and addresses of witnesses he/she wants to examine.
- Within a period of seven working days of receipt of the complaint, the Committee shall send one copy of all documents received from the aggrieved person to the respondent.
- Within a period of ten working days from the date of receipt of complaint, the respondent may file with the Committee, a reply to the complaint along with the list of documents he/she seeks to rely on, and the names and addresses of witnesses he/she wishes to examine.
- For the purposes of making an inquiry, the Committee shall exercise the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 when trying a suit, and may:
- summon and enforce the attendance of any person and examine him/her on oath
- require the discovery and production of documents
- At the commencement of the inquiry, the Committee shall prepare a charge sheet containing specific charges of sexual harassment based upon the complaint and hand over the same to the respondent as well as the aggrieved person.
- Legal practitioners cannot represent either the aggrieved person or the respondent at any stage of the inquiry proceedings before the Committee.
- The Presiding Officer conducting the inquiry shall inform the aggrieved person and the respondent at least forty-eight hours in advance, in writing, of the date, time, venue of the inquiry proceedings.
- The Committee shall not, at any time during the inquiry proceedings or deliberations, cause the aggrieved person and the respondent to be placed face to face.
- The aggrieved person as well as the respondent shall be given an opportunity to lead evidence, both documentary as well as through witnesses.
- The aggrieved person and the respondent shall have the right to cross-examine each other and any other witness presented by the other party. However, to ensure that the aggrieved person and his/her witnesses are not traumatised or humiliated and being mindful of gender sensitivity, such cross examination shall be conducted through the Presiding Officer, to whom the respondent may submit questions in writing. The respondent shall have no right to directly cross-examine the aggrieved person or his/her witnesses. The Presiding Officer shall exercise his/her discretion and respecting the dignity of the aggrieved person, put only questions that are relevant to the complaint under inquiry, to the aggrieved person and his/her witnesses, and disallow any inappropriate questions that will intimidate, traumatise or insult them.
- All inquiry proceedings of the Committee shall be recorded and the same, together with statements of the witnesses shall be endorsed by the persons concerned in token of authenticity thereof.
- All persons participating in the inquiry shall take and observe an oath of secrecy about the proceedings, to protect the identity and dignity of the aggrieved person and the respondent. Any violation of the oath of secrecy shall invite penalties.
- The members of the inquiry committee shall maintain confidentiality about the proceedings conducted by them.
- The Committee shall be sensitive to the covert, private and insidious nature of Sexual Harassment and shall take into account that often the aggrieved person may not be able to present direct or corroborative evidence.
- The past sexual history or character of the aggrieved person shall be deemed irrelevant and inadmissible as evidence in an inquiry into a complaint of sexual harassment.
- The Committee may consider as relevant any earlier complaints against the respondent with regard to sexual harassment or any other form of violence against men/women.
- The venue of the inquiry shall be decided by the Committee, taking into consideration the safety of the aggrieved person and the convenience of both parties.
- Vedica shall bear the travel expenses of the members of the Committee and travel and related expenses incurred by the complainant and the witnesses in order to appear before the inquiry conducted by the Committee.
- The Committee shall complete the inquiry within a period of 90 days from the date on which the inquiry is commenced.
VI. Ex-Parte Decision
If the aggrieved person or the respondent, fail, without sufficient cause to present herself or himself for three consecutive hearings of the inquiry convened by the Presiding Officer, the Committee shall have the right to terminate the proceedings or give an ex-parte decision on the complaint. Provided that the Committee shall give a notice in writing, fifteen days in advance to the concerned party prior to terminating the inquiry or passing an ex-parte order.
VII. Interim Orders during Pendency of Inquiry
During the pendency of the inquiry, the Committee may recommend Vedica to:
- on a written request made by the aggrieved person, transfer the aggrieved person or the respondent to any other office of Vedica or/and
- issue an order restraining the respondent or any person acting on behalf of the respondent from attempting to contact, influence, intimidate or exert pressure on the aggrieved man/woman or/and
- grant leave to the aggrieved Person for a period up to 3 months or/and
- restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved person or writing his/her confidential report and assign the same to some other employee; or/and
- grant such other relief to the aggrieved person as the Committee deems fit in the circumstances.
VIII. Inquiry Report
Upon conclusion of the inquiry, the Committee shall submit a detailed and reasoned written report of its findings, within a period of ten days from the date of completion of inquiry, to the Employer. A copy of the report shall be made available to the aggrieved person and the respondent. The inquiry report shall specify the details of the charge(s) against the respondent, the statements made and evidence presented in the inquiry and a discussion of the reasons upon which the findings arrived at by the Committee.
The Committee may pass any of the following orders:
- Where the Committee concludes that the charges against the respondent have not been proved, it shall recommend to the Vedica that no action is required to be taken on the complaint.
- Where the Committee concludes that the charges against the respondent have been proved it shall recommend to the Vedica, to take action against the respondent for the misconduct of sexual harassment:
- by imposing a penalty as prescribed under Rule XII of the present Rules; and
- to expel from the VSPW or to deduct from the salary or consultancy or earnings of the respondent/ such sum as determined in accordance with Rule XIII, to be paid to the aggrieved person or her legal heirs as compensation.
Vedica shall act upon the recommendations of the Committee within sixty days of receipt of the same.
- When the Committee arrives at the conclusion that the charges against the respondent have been proved it shall recommend to the Vedica, any of the following penalties, depending on the misconduct and harm suffered by the aggrieved person:
- Written apology;
- Reprimand or censure;
- Withholding of promotion/Certificate;
- Withholding of one or more increments;
- Compulsory counselling;
- Carrying out community service as determined by the Committee;
- Disallow the person from being associated with Committee;
- Disallow the person from entering the Committee offices or attend events (meetings, trainings, etc) organised by Committee by declaring him persona non-grata for a stipulated period;
- Transfer to another state office;
- Compulsory retirement;
- Termination from service;
- Expel the person from The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women
X. Determination of Compensation
For the purpose of determining the sum to be paid to the aggrieved person under sub-clause (3)(d) of Rule XI, the Committee shall take into account the following criteria:
- mental trauma, pain, suffering or emotional distress caused to the aggrieved person
- the loss in career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment to the aggrieved person and the trauma caused due to the same.
- medical expenses incurred by the aggrieved person for physical, psychiatric or psychological treatment.
- the income and financial status of the respondent.
- feasibility of such payment in lump sum or instalments.
XI. False and Malicious Complaints
Where the Committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious, or that the aggrieved person or any other person making the complaint, has made the complaint knowing it to be false, or have produced a forged or misleading document, it may recommend to the Vedica to take the actions against the aggrieved person or any other person who has made the complaint in line with the penalties and compensation stated in clauses XII and XIII above.Provided that the mere inability of the aggrieved person or complainant to substantiate or provide adequate proof to prove his/her allegations of sexual harassment at the inquiry, cannot lead to an inference of it being a false or malicious complaint and will not attract action against the aggrieved person or complainant.
Provided further that no action shall be recommended against the complainant until the malicious intent alleged against the complainant is established through an inquiry in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
Any person aggrieved by the recommendation of the Committee after the inquiry, to not take any action under sub-clause (3)(a) of Rule XI; or to impose a penalty or compensation under sub clauses (3)(c) and(d) under Rule XI; or for taking action for a false or malicious complaint or for giving false evidence under Rule XIV; or for publication or disclosure of information prohibited under Rule XV; or the non-implementation of such recommendations, may file an appeal as provided under this Rule.
The Appeal shall be filed to Industrial Tribunal-I, District Courts, Karkardooma, Delhi, within a period of ninety days of the recommendations being made by the Committee.
The Committee reports to the Governing Council Member who is an ex officio member of the Committee (charge held by ________ currently) on all matters and the Governing Council’s decision on the recommendation of the committee will be final and binding.