High Court was of the view that rank should not come in between the Junior heading Panel
The Centre has given clarification that the rank of a woman heading a complaints committee is of no relevance when it comes to inquiring into a sexual harassment complaint against an official.
The note is based on a 2015 Allahabad HC judgment passed in which the question of the complaint committee chairperson’s rank had arisen.
On September 9, in a note to all Ministries & departments, the Ministry of Personnel made it completely clear that there wasn’t any bar on a panel headed by a woman officer of junior rank to the suspected or charged officer holding this sort of inquiry.
To ensure fair inquiry, further, Ministries and Departments may consider transferring the charged officer or suspect to another office to avoid any risk of him using his authority to influence or alter the proceedings of Complaints Committee.
A set of comprehensive guidelines have been formulated by the Centre on the steps that should be taken by sexual harassment committees in June 2015 on the basis of judgment of the Apex Court in the Visakha case.
In 2015 the legality of a committee whose chairperson comes out to be junior in rank to the suspect officer came up before the Allahabad HC.
The judge had said in that case that in his opinion, there isn’t anything in the Scheme of the section which would require the lady member to be of senior ranking to the officer against whom there are allegations of sexual harassment.
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