February 21, 2020
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Binoo Sen

The NCW member-secretary is firm on preventing harassment at the workplace

Binoo Sen
How prevalent is sexual harassment at the workplace?
In a study last year the National Commision for Women found that many women were unaware of the guidelines.

How will the new code of conduct be enforced?
It's an extension of the Supreme Court judgement. So it has the force of law which will make it mandatory. We'll enforce it by sending it to as many fora as possible.

Will the onus of providing proof be on the woman?
It'll have to be circumstantial evidence. The onus will also be on the man to prove that he's not guilty.

There's a wide gap between what the law should be and its implementation. Comment.
We'll monitor it periodically. We'll summon people and ask them if implementation is lagging. The Railway Board and Bureau of Indian Standards have been summoned.

Under the new code, the complaints committee will submit its recommendations to the head of the organisation. What if he's the offender?
It can go to the next higher authority.

Do you see a male backlash to this?
Men are reacting and saying this will be misused. The Supreme Court felt the need for such a provision as there are many cases which go unreported.

How will the aggrieved party be compensated?
I don't say there will be cash compensation for every case. The culprit in the case of a government employee will be tried under government rules and follow the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) in case of the private sector.

How many cases so far have gone in favour of the woman?
The most celebrated case is that of Rupan Deol Bajaj. Recently there have been four other cases which have been decided in favour of the aggrieved party.

Why do you feel the private sector has been lagging behind?
No one seems to have given it much thought.

Any action yet on the case of film actress Raakhee and a passport officer?
The incident happened a year ago and it has come up only now. Generally evidence gets blurred if there's a time lag. But beyond this I can't comment.

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