Centre for Internet & Society

For reporting complaints and information about an incident of harassment at CIS or involving CIS members, please contact any of the Internal Committee members (IC) below. The IC recognizes that such reporting requires sharing of personal and sensitive information. The IC is an independent body at CIS and is bound by strict rules to appropriately handle such information and maintain confidentiality — as described in the policy below.

 

Official email: ic.cisindia[at]protonmail[dot]com

Anubha Sinha: Presiding Officer, Delhi, profile, anubha.m[at]protonmail[dot]com 

Ambika Tandon: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and ambikatandon[at]protonmail[dot]com

Kalyani Menon-Sen: External Member, Delhi, profile, and kmenonsen[at]gmail[dot]com

P.P. Sneha: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and ppsneha[at]protonmail[dot]com

Divyank Katira: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and divyank.cisblr[at]protonmail[dot]com

Pallavi Bedi: Member, Delhi, profile, and pallavibedi[at]protonmail[dot]com

 

Policy on Prohibition And Redressal of Sexual Harassment Against All Persons

 

1.         Preliminary

1.1       This Policy on Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment Against All Persons ("Policy") states the internal policy of the Centre for Internet and Society ("CIS") with regard to the definition, prohibition, prevention, and redressal of sexual harassment at its workplaces. 

1.2       CIS is committed to creating and maintaining a safe, secure and comfortable workplace, free from impropriety, indignity and fear, for all people at its workplace.

Accordingly, CIS requires all members to undergo mandatory anti-sexual harassment training at regular intervals. CIS shall also ensure that its management and staff remain attentive and responsive to the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace; and, that other people (interns, consultants, etc.) who are granted access to CIS’ workplace are made aware of this Policy.

Further, the CIS Internal Committee (IC) is empowered to investigate complaints or allegations of sexual harassment and address them in a timely, impartial and sensitive manner.

Further, in an extraordinary situation where the CIS management or the CIS Board reasonably believes that there may be a case of sexual harassment pertaining to any current member of CIS, including the Executive Director, and in the situation where the jurisdiction of the IC is unclear, CIS commits to undertaking an investigation either at the executive, Board level, or through an independent third-party expert(s). CIS is commited to ensuring the investigation is impartial and follows due process.

 

2.         What is Sexual Harassment?

2.1       For the purposes of this Policy, sexual harassment, includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour, experienced by a person, whether directly or by implication, committed in person/ on print or via computer/ phone/ other media: 

(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures;

(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours;

(iii) making obscene/ sexually coloured remarks or remarks of a obscene/ sexual nature about a person's clothing or body;

(iv) showing pornography, making or posting sexual pranks, sexual teasing; 

(v) repeatedly asking to socialize during off-duty hours or continued expressions of sexual/ romantic interest against a person’s wishes; 

(vi) deprecatory comments, conduct or any such behaviour based on the gender identity or sexual orientation;

(vi) voyeurism; or

(vii) stalking; 

(viii) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Further, occurrence of any of the following circumstances in relation to any sexually determined act or behavior amounts to sexual harassment:

(ix) implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment;

(x) implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status;

(xi) interference with the person’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or

(xii) humiliating treatment likely to affect the person’s health or safety.

2.3       If in pursuit of a legitimate professional objective or in the ordinary course of work, it is necessary to carry out any activity, including discussion, viewing, reading or other handling of issues or material related to sex, sexuality, pornography or other activities of a sexual nature, such activity will not amount to sexual harassment provided that care is taken to ensure that such activity is carried out in a professional, respectful and dignified manner.

2.4. Finally, it should be noted that the allegation of sexual harassment depends on the experience of the aggrieved person, and not on the intentions of the respondent.

 

3. Who may Complain of Sexual Harassment?

3.1       CIS shall entertain complaints of sexual harassment from any individual where either the aggrieved person is a member of CIS or a third party, whether contractually employed at CIS or not, allege to have been subject to sexual harassment at CIS’ workplace.

For the purposes of this policy, the ‘aggrieved person’ means the person who alleges to have been subject to sexual harassment, and the ‘respondent’ means a person against whom the aggrieved person has filed a complaint under the provisions of this policy. 

This policy is gender neutral and applies to instances of sexual harassment between all genders, including same-sex harassment. However, in cases where sexual harassment is experienced by a woman by a cis-man, CIS’ Policy on Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment against Women shall apply. 

3.2. Members may include any person engaged by CIS for any work, whether of regular, temporary or ad hoc basis, either directly or through an agent, 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 express or implied and includes a co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, intern or apprentice.

Accordingly, employees, whether on probation or permanent; staff; fellows; distinguished fellows; consultants; interns; board and society members are included as members of CIS.

3.3 CIS’ workplace includes its offices in Delhi and Bengaluru as well as any place or medium of interaction, nationally and internationally, where the members visit in connection with his/her work, during the course of employment and/or arising out of engagement with CIS, including transportation provided for undertaking work.

 

4. Internal Committee (IC)

4.1       CIS’ IC, as convened under CIS’ POSH policy for protection of women as per the Sexual Harassmen of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), shall also conduct inquiry into complaints received under this policy. The IC serves CIS’ offices in Delhi and Bengaluru.

 

Name

Location

Designation

E-mail

Anubha Sinha

Delhi

Presiding Officer

anubha.m[at]protonmail[dot]com

Ambika Tandon

Bengaluru

Member

ambikatandon[at]protonmail[dot]com

Kalyani Menon-Sen

Delhi

External Member

kmenonsen[at]gmail[dot]com

Divyank Katira

Bengaluru

Member

divyank.cisblr[at]protonmail[dot]com

Pallavi Bedi

Delhi

Member

pallavibedi[at]protonmail[dot]com

P.P. Sneha

Bengaluru

Member

ppsneha[at]protonmail[dot]com

 

5. How to Make a Complaint Of Sexual Harassment?

5.1       An aggrieved person  who alleges to have been subject to an act of sexual harassment may submit a complaint, in writing, to any member of the IC. Alternatively, the aggrieved person  may email the complaint to the IC at ic.cisindia[at]protonmail[dot]com, preferably from a non-organisational email account (for security purposes). 

(i) The complaint should be made within a period of six months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of six months from the date of last incident:

Provided that where such complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any member of the IC shall render all reasonable assistance to the person  for making the complaint in writing: 

Provided further that the IC may, in exceptional circumstances, for the reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time limit, if it is satisfied that there were reasonable grounds due to which the complaint was not filed within the stipulated period.

We strongly encourage complainants to come forward to file complaints within the stipulated period of six months, to allow the investigators to initiate and complete the investigation in a timely manner.

(ii) Where the aggrieved person  is unable to make a complaint on account of his/her physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise, his/her legal heir, relative, friend, co-worker, or any person having the knowledge of the incident may make a complaint to the Presiding Officer of the IC or, subject to the following limitations:  

  1. The complaint should be made within a period of six months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of six months from the date of last incident.

    Provided further that the IC may, for the reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time limit, if it is satisfied that there were reasonable grounds due to which the complaint was not filed within the stipulated period. 

(iii) In the absence of a complaint, the IC shall, even after the expiration period mentioned in clause (i), have have the discretionary power to investigate incidents that may amount to sexual harassment after obtaining due consent, in writing, from the aggrieved person.

Provided that where such consent cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any member of the IC shall render all reasonable assistance to the person for making the consent in writing.

(iv) Extraordinary situation: “Extraordinary situation” would include situations where the jurisdiction of the IC is unclear, including a potential case against the Executive Director (ED).

  1. In such situations, where the CIS management or the CIS Board, reasonably believe that there may be a case of sexual harassment pertaining to any current member of CIS, CIS commits to undertaking an inquiry either at the executive, Board level, or through an independent third party. CIS commits to ensuring the inquiry is impartial and follows due process.

 5.2   Receiving the Complaint 

(i) The IC shall take cognizance of the complaint at the earliest and in any case within ten working days of receiving the complaint. The Presiding Officer will constitute an Inquiry Committee of at least three IC members to conduct the inquiry and prepare the report. 

(ii) A complete copy of the complaint and other supporting documents, including evidence and statements of witnesses shall be sent to the respondent within ten working days of receiving the complaint.

(iii) Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, the respondent shall submit his reply to the complaint to the Inquiry Committee, along with supporting documents within a period of ten  working days. 

(iv) The Inquiry Committee shall share  the complete copy of the respondent’s reply and the supporting documents, including evidence and statements of witnesses with the  aggrieved person within 10 working days of receiving it.  

5.2.1 Resolution through Conciliation 

(i) Once the complaint and reply are received, before initiating the inquiry the IC may take steps to conciliate the complaint between the aggrieved person and the respondent. 

(ii) This shall be initiated only if requested by the aggrieved person  in writing. 

(iii) It should be made clear to all parties that conciliation in itself doesn’t necessarily mean acceptance of complaint by the respondent. It is a practical mechanism through which issues are resolved or misunderstandings cleared. 

(iv) In case a settlement is arrived at, the IC will record and report the same to the Executive Director for taking appropriate action. If conciliation fails and/or no settlement is reached between the parties, the IC shall proceed to conduct a formal inquiry into the complaint.

(v) The IC shall provide copies of the settlement to aggrieved person and respondent. Once the action is implemented, no further inquiry is conducted. 

(vi) If the respondent and/ or Executive Director fail to implement the terms of the settlement, the aggrieved person may request the IC to conduct a formal inquiry into the complaint. 

(vii) No monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation. 

5.2.2 Conducting a Formal Inquiry

(i) The IC commits to conducting a prompt, thorough, and impartial inquiry of a complaint as necessary and appropriate, in accordance with the principles of natural justice. 

(ii) Upon receipt of a complaint, the Presiding Officer and two members shall at a meeting specially convened for this purpose, constitute from amongst its members a quorum of at least three members known as the Inquiry Committee to examine, conduct the inquiry, and prepare a report. The Inquiry Committee will be set up keeping in mind the nature of the complaint and other sensitivities in the matter. The Inquiry Committee shall be notified to the parties prior to commencement of the inquiry and hearings, and will not be changed unless a situation mentioned in section 4(5) of the Act presents itself. 

 The Inquiry Committee shall be subject to the following rules: 

(i) Both parties shall be given the opportunity to appear before the Inquiry Committee and present their case and/or submit names of any witnesses or documentary evidence substantiating their case. 

(ii) The Inquiry Committee shall have the power to call upon any such witnesses and record their statements. The proceedings shall be conducted in such language as may be familiar to the aggrieved person and the respondent. 

(iii) Absent exceptional circumstances, the aggrieved person and respondent should inform the Inquiry Committee in writing at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing the names of any witnesses he/she wishes to testify. Any information shared during a hearing is confidential.

(iv) A aggrieved person or respondent shall not question each other or other witnesses directly but may raise questions to be asked of that party through the Inquiry Committee, which will determine whether to ask them. 

(v) The minutes of the proceedings shall be recorded in English and where the aggrieved person  or the respondent is not conversant with English, in addition, in such language as may be familiar to them.

(vI) If a party is not present for more than 3 consecutive hearings, without sufficient cause, the Inquiry Committee may, after giving that party a notice of 15 days, give an ex parte decision on the complaint or terminate the complaint.

(viI) The Inquiry Committee will make every effort to complete its inquiry within 90 days of a complaint of sexual harassment. 

(viii) The Inquiry Report of the Inquiry Committee, including its decision and recommendations, and reasons for arriving at such a decision, shall be communicated to the concerned parties and the Executive Director, in writing, at the earliest and in any case within 10 working days of completion of the inquiry.

Notification of the decision and the reasons shall be individually communicated to the respondent and the aggrieved person on the same day. 

(ix) If the allegations against the respondent are proved to be true, the Inquiry Committee shall also recommend the penalties or corrective/restorative action that may be taken against him/ her to the Executive Director.

(x) The Executive Director shall act on the recommendation of the Inquiry Committee within a period of 60 days from the date of the receipt of the Inquiry Report, unless an appeal against the findings is filed within that period by either party.

5.3 Interim Relief for the Aggrieved Person

(i) During the pendency of the inquiry, on a written request made by the aggrieved person or otherwise, the Inquiry Committee may recommend to the Executive Director to: 

  • Transfer the aggrieved person or the respondent to any other workplace; or

  • Suspend the respondent; ask them to work from home, or go on leave for the duration of the inquiry; or

  • Grant leave to the aggrieved person, for a period of three months maximum, in addition to the leave she would be otherwise entitled; or

  • Prevent the respondent and/ or Executive Director from assessing the aggrieved person’s work performance; or

  • Grant such other relief as may be appropriate including:

    • Pass an order restraining all communication between respondent and various CIS members;

    • Pass an order restraining all communication between respondent and any CIS member which is likely to influence the inquiry;

    • Any other measure to inspire confidence in various members of the workplace that CIS is committed to providing a safe working environment.

Once the recommendations of interim relief are implemented, the Executive Director will inform the IC regarding the same. 

(ii) The Inquiry Committee shall also suo motu examine the inherent power asymmetry and/or the vulnerability of the aggrieved person in such cases and take steps to ensure that the aggrieved person is not subjected to a hostile environment during the inquiry. These steps include, but are not limited to, directing the respondent to cease communication with the complainant or asking the respondent to work from home. The determination shall be done on a case-by-case basis. 

A “hostile environment” is created when one’s acts or behaviours with sexual undertones at a workplace creates an environment that is uncomfortable for the complainant which in turn could affect one’s health and work performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment. 

5.4 Malicious Allegations

(i) Where the Inquiry Committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious, or the aggrieved person  or any other person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false, or the aggrieved person or any other person making the complaint has produced any forged or misleading document, it may recommend to the Executive Director to take action against the aggrieved person or the person making the complaint. This includes remedial and restorative steps of undertaking training or counselling, and coupled with proportionate actions including warning, suspension and disciplinary action, depending on the seriousness of the case. 

While deciding malicious intent, the Inquiry Committee  will consider that mere inability to substantiate a complaint need not mean malicious intent. Malicious intent must be clearly established through a separate inquiry.

5.5 Confidentiality

CIS, the Management team, and IC Members are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of the information, process and outcomes including the identity of the aggrieved person, respondent, witnesses, statements and other evidence obtained in the course of inquiry process, recommendations of the IC, and action taken by the Executive Director. 

 

All individuals or persons involved in the process or otherwise forming part of CIS workforce are expected to remain sensitive and exercise their personal discretion to uphold and maintain confidentiality of these aspects in all professional and personal interactions. 

 

In order to maintain the sanctity and integrity of the inquiry process, we would advise the parties to the process to not disclose or make public any information regarding the process, identities of the parties or the complaint during the course of the inquiry. CIS, it’s management or IC Members assume no liability, vicariously or otherwise. 

 

Parties can consult any IC member regarding application of this clause and other concerns they may have. 

5.6 Review by an External Member

Any party not satisfied or further aggrieved by the decision of the IC, recommendations made by the IC or the implementation or non-implementation of such recommendations, may request a review of the decision to the external member of the IC who is not a member of the Inquiry Committee, within 30 working days of the recommendations being communicated. This external member shall review the decision and make their recommendations to the Executive Director within 10 working days from the receiving of the review request. 

5.7 Prohibition of Retaliation 

CIS Members, including the Society and Board members, directors and management, and staff will not intimidate or take any retaliatory action (direct or indirect) against a person who files a complaint or provides testimony/ evidence regarding a complaint in good faith. 

Types of retaliation that are prohibited include but are not limited to: 

(i) Intimidation;

(ii) Interference with the person’s  work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment;

(iii) Termination of employment;

(iv) Failing to hire or consider for hire or promotion; and

(iv) Adversely impacting working conditions or otherwise denying any employment benefit to an employee

Note that an adverse disciplinary action against a CIS member whose conduct or performance warrants such action for reasons unrelated to the reporting of a complaint will not be deemed a violation of this clause.

Individuals who are concerned about retaliation should approach the Presiding Officer of the IC at anubha.m[at]protonmail[dot]com or the External member of the IC at kmenonsen[at]gmail[dot]com. Such concerns will be addressed on priority. 

 

A conclusion of malicious allegation made by the aggrieved person shall be investigated by the Inquiry Committee as per clause 5.4 of this policy. 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of their individual authors. Unless the opposite is explicitly stated, or unless the opposite may be reasonably inferred, CIS does not subscribe to these views and opinions which belong to their individual authors. CIS does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the views and opinions of these individual authors. For an official statement from CIS on a particular issue, please contact us directly.