Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CIC indicts NCW for inaction on sexual harassment complaints, RTI applications

The Tribune: New Delhi: Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Indicting the National Commission for Women (NCW) for not properly handling complaints and RTI applications of a sexually harassed woman employee, the Central Information Commission has asked its Chairperson to act within reasonable time to save its “credibility and reputation”.
“If this is the fate of a woman who is working as research assistant in National Commission for Women, what will be the plight of ordinary women outside the NCW?” Central Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu wondered.
It asked the NCW to explain why the victim should not be paid compensation and why action should not be taken against the erring officers.
The CIC was surprised to note that the NCW did not respond to her two complaints of sexual harassment and allowed an officer accused of sexual harassment to deal with the first appeal under RTI Act.
“The submission of the appellant reflect unhealthy environment at workplace in the forum which supposed to protect the rights of women. Her right to life, right to work and right to information were seriously endangered by sexual harassment by senior officer,” it said in its June 16 verdict.
Pulling up the statutory body mandated to protect women’s rights, the CIC said the NCW had a Constitutional duty to explain reasons for breach of two statutes on sexual harassment and Right to Information in the case.
The CIC asked the NCW Chairperson to consider “within reasonable time” the victim’s second appeal under RTI Act, including its order, as a complaint against inaction in NCW on her complaints of sexual harassment and breach of RTI, “to save the credibility and reputation of NCW”.
“Surprisingly the National Commission for Women did not respond to her complaint, not conducted inquiry properly and disregarded to the guidelines of DoPT, the Supreme Court, and 2013 Act,” it said.
“The sudden increase in the remuneration of contractual employees who were on inquiry committee and witnesses strengthen the allegation of conspiracy to harass the appellant and strategic plan to remove her.
“The NCW should not have abdicated the good governance principles of responding to complaint and following two statutes and guidelines of DoPT in dealing with RTI Application and also the First Appeal, and totally ignoring the serious complaint of sexual harassment…” the CIC said.