Equality in employment can be seriously impaired when women are subjected to gender specific violence such as sexual harassment at workplace. It is necessary and expedient for employers in workplaces/institutions to observe certain guidelines to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment of women. On 13th August, 1997, the Honorable Supreme Court of India held that sexual harassment of women is a violation of the fundamental right of the women to work in a safe environment and laid down certain Guidelines and Norms with a view to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplaces. In March 1999, a letter was sent out by the UGC Chairperson to all the Vice Chancellors and Principals to set up prevention of sexual harassment cells.
Accordingly, Punjabi University, Patiala set up the “Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Cell” in May, 2002. The short title of the Cell is “Prevention of women harassment Cell” (PWHC).
The Cell addresses the complaints from teachers, research scholar, students and non-teaching employees of
The University-based PWHC was set up to address effectively and speedily violations of sexual nature. PWHC has been put in place to provide a civil redressal mechanism in contrast to a criminal --primarily punitive --process. The goal of the PWHC is to deal with the problem faced by the student/employee through an internal system of relief that is easy to access, and thereby provides an effective remedy to the aggrieved complainant as quickly as possible so that she can continue to study/work and develop without further impediments.
The committee that addresses the sexual harassment related complaints is named as Harassment Redressal Committee (HRC). The HRC of the cell comprises seven members which include a senior professor as the chairperson along with a professor, an associate professor, a member from the non-teaching staff, a member from an N.G.O., a representative from research scholars and a representative from students (President of the elected student body, if any) as members. At present, following are the members of the HRC committee:
The complaint about the sexual harassment may be made, in writing, to the Chairperson or any of the members of the Cell committee within a period of three months from the date of the incident, and in case of a series of incidents, within the period of three months from the date of last incident.The committee can extend the time limit if it satisfied that circumstances were such that prevented the complainant to file the complaint in time.
If the complainant is unable to give the complaint in writing, she can report the incident to any of the members or the chairperson who will provide her reasonable assistance for making the complaint in writing.