Centre for Internet & Society

This Prohibition of Sexual Harassment Policy states the internal policy of the Centre for Internet and Society with regard to the definition, prohibition, prevention, and redressal of sexual harassment at its workplace. The names and contact details of the current members of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) are given below.

 

Internal Complaints Committee

E-mail: [email protected]

Anubha Sinha: Presiding Officer, Delhi, profile, and e-mail

Akriti Bopanna: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and e-mail

Amber Sinha: Member, Delhi, profile, and e-mail

Ambika Tandon: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and e-mail

Gopala Krishna A: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and e-mail

Kalyani Menon-Sen: External Member, Delhi, profile, and e-mail

Saumyaa Naidu: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and e-mail

P.P. Sneha: Member, Bengaluru, profile, and e-mail


Frequently Asked Questions about the Policy on Prohibition of Sexual Harassment


Policy on Prohibition of Sexual Harassment

1. Preliminary

1.1. This Prohibition of Sexual Harassment Policy ("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 workplace.

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

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

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

1.3. This Policy is without prejudice to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 that was enacted into law on April 22, 2013. Sexual harassment of women, within or outside a workplace, is further defined and criminalized under section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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, whether directly or by implication, committed in person, on print, or via computer, phone, or other media:

  1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures;
  2. a demand or request for sexual favours;
  3. making obscene/ sexually coloured remarks or remarks of a obscene/ sexual nature about a person's clothing or body;
  4. showing pornography, making or posting sexual pranks, sexual teasing;
  5. repeatedly asking to socialize during off-duty hours or continued expressions of sexual/ romantic interest against a person’s wishes;
  6. deprecatory comments, conduct or any such behaviour based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of a person;
  7. voyeurism; or
  8. stalking;
  9. any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

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

  1. implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment;
  2. implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status;
  3. interference with the person’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or
  4. 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 member of CIS and third parties, whether contractually employed at CIS or not, who alleges to have been subject to an act of sexual harassment while at CIS’ workplace.

For the purposes of this policy, the aggrieved person means the complainant.

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 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 Complaints Complaints (ICC)

4.1. CIS has constituted an Internal Complaints Committee ("ICC"), which serves its offices in Delhi and Bengaluru.

Name Location Designation E-mail
Anubha Sinha Delhi Presiding Officer [email protected]
Akriti Bopanna Bengaluru Member [email protected]
Amber Sinha Delhi Member [email protected]
Ambika Tandon Bengaluru Member [email protected]
Gopala Krishna A Bengaluru Member [email protected]
Kalyani Menon-Sen Delhi External Member [email protected]
Saumyaa Naidu Bengaluru Member [email protected]
P.P. Sneha Bengaluru Member [email protected]

5. How to Make a Complaint of Sexual Harassment?

5.1. A person who alleges to have been subject to an act of sexual harassment may prefer a complaint, in writing, to any member of the ICC, or to Mr. Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, CIS ([email protected]) who shall forward the complaint to the ICC.

Alternatively, the person may email the complaint to the ICC at [email protected].

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

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

    Provided further that the ICC may, for the reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time limit not exceeding six months, if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the person from filing a complaint within the said period.

  2. 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 ICC or Mr.Sunil Abraham (Executive Director, CIS).

    Complaints may be made anonymously, although prior written consent from the aggrieved person is necessary for it.

  3. In the absence of a complaint, the ICC shall 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 ICC shall render all reasonable assistance to the person for making the consent in writing.

    The ICC shall, in receiving, conducting inquiries into, disposing of, and otherwise handling, complaints, adhere to the procedure below, in proper compliance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

5.2. Receiving the Complaint

  1. The Presiding Officer of the ICC shall take cognizance of the complaint at the earliest and in any case within 10 days of receiving the complaint. A complete copy of the complaint and other supporting documents, including evidence and statements of witnesses shall be sent to the respondent within 10 days of receiving the complaint.

  2. Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, the respondent shall file his/her reply to the complaint, along with supporting documents within a period of 10 days. A complete copy of the reply and the supporting documents, including evidence and statements of witnesses shall be sent to the aggrieved person within 10 days of receiving the complaint.

5.2.1. Resolution through Conciliation

  1. Once the complaint and reply are received, before initiating the inquiry the ICC may take steps to conciliate the complaint between the aggrieved person and the respondent.

  2. This shall be initiated only if requested by the aggrieved person. A request for conciliation should be made within 2 weeks of receipt of reply from the respondent.

  3. 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.

  4. In case a settlement is arrived at, the ICC will record & report the same to the employer for taking appropriate action. If conciliation fails and/or no settlement is reached between the parties, the ICC shall proceed to conduct a formal inquiry into the complaint.

  5. The ICC shall provide copies of the settlement to aggrieved person & respondent. Once the action is implemented, no further inquiry is conducted.

  6. If the respondent and/or employer fail to implement the terms of the settlement, the aggrieved person may request the ICC to conduct a formal inquiry into the complaint. The ICC shall proceed with making a formal inquiry within 7 days of receiving such notice/ request.

5.2.2. Conducting a Formal Investigation

  1. The ICC shall conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of a complaint as necessary and appropriate, in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

  2. 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, enquire, investigate and prepare a report. The Inquiry Committee shall be notified to the parties prior to commencement of the investigation and hearings, and will not be changed throughout the process. Majority of the members of the Inquiry Committee shall be women.

  3. The Inquiry Committee shall be subject to the following rules:

    1. Members must recuse themselves from the process if a conflict of interest or prejudice concerning the matter is demonstrated.

    2. Any member of the ICC, employer, aggrieved party or accused, with reasonable knowledge of the existence of a member’s conflict of interest or prejudice may submit an application for change of quorum.

    3. The employer in consultation with the remainder of the ICC will decide on the request for change of quorum.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. The Inquiry Committee will make every effort to complete its investigation within 90 days of a complaint of sexual harassment.

  11. The Inquiry Report of the Inquiry Committee, including its decision and recommendations, and reasons for arriving at such decision, shall be communicated to the concerned parties and the employer, in writing, at the earliest and in any case within 15 days of completion of the investigation.

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

  13. If the allegations against the respondent are proved to be true, the Inquiry Committee shall also recommend the penalties or corrective action that may be taken against him/her to the employer.

  14. The employer shall act on the recommendation of the Inquiry Committee within a period of 15 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

  1. During the pendency of the of the inquiry, on a written request made by the aggrieved person, the Inquiry Committee may recommend to the employer to:

    1. Transfer the aggrieved person or the respondent to any other workplace; or

    2. Grant leave to the aggrieved person, for a period of 60 days maximum, in addition to the leave she would be otherwise entitled; or

    3. Prevent the respondent and/or employer from assessing aggrieved person’s work performance; or

    4. Grant such other relief as may be appropriate.
    Once the recommendations of interim relief are implemented, the employer will inform the ICC regarding the same.

5.4. Protection of the Aggrieved Person

  1. The Inquiry Committee shall also take note of 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 investigation.

    Explanation: A “hostile environment” is said to be created when filing of the complaint or proceedings of the ICC have the direct or indirect purpose or effect of interfering with the aggrieved person’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment or living environment.

5.4. Malicious Allegations

  1. Where the Inquiry Committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious, or the aggrieved party 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 employer to take action against the aggrieved person or the person making the complaint.

    While deciding malicious intent, the Inquiry Committee should 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

  1. The identity of the aggrieved person, respondent, witnesses, statements and other evidence obtained in the course of inquiry process, recommendations of the ICC / Inquiry Committee, and action taken by the employer are considered as confidential material, and not published or made known to public or media.

    Any person contravening the confidentiality clause is subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, wherever applicable.

5.6. Appeal

  1. Any party not satisfied or further aggrieved by the decision of the ICC or by the recommendations made by the ICC or the implementation or non-implementation of such recommendations, may appeal to the appellate authority in accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, within 90 days of the recommendations being communicated, wherever applicable.