Amendments in the context of law can be defined as an addition or modification to the existing and ongoing laws. Amendments are necessary to the legal system because, in a dynamic world, the law must keep up with the pace of time.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013, often known as the POSH Act, has seen similar changes recently. This indicates that legislators are aware of the ever-changing nature of the workplace and have enacted various amendments to deal with the issue of sexual harassment against women employees in the workplace. Moreover, other statutes made several amendments to enhance the importance of Posh and prevent sexual harassment against women employees in the workplace at all costs.
This article highlights such amendments to the Posh law and how each revision has paved the way toward safe and sexual harassment-free workplaces for all employees.
THE REPEALING AND AMENDMENTS ACT, 2016
Through an official gazette published on May 6th, 2019, the repealing and amendments act, 2016, made certain amendments to the POSH Act. The amendments were as follows:
In sections 6, 7, and 24,?
(i) for the words ?Local Complaints Committee,? wherever they occur, the words ?Local Committee? shall be substituted;
(ii) for the words ?Internal Complaints Committee,” wherever they occur, the words ?Internal Committee? shall be substituted
Though it may seem a mere omission of the word ?COMPLAINTS,? there rests a deep meaning behind this amendment to the Posh law. This enhances the strength of the Posh Internal Committee that it is not there just for the sole purpose of sorting and acting towards sexual harassment complaints in the workplace; instead, its purpose is to prevent such acts against women employees and take actions to curb this evil.
This amendment brought clarity to the essence and importance of a Posh internal committee to every employee in a workplace.
THE AMENDMENT OF COMPANY (ACCOUNTS) RULES 2014
The Ministry of corporate affairs acted on the request of the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare and, through a notification, amended the Company (Accounts) Rules 2014 on July 31st, 2018. This amendment made it mandatory for every company (barring the small companies and one-person companies) to disclose that they have complied with the constitution of an internal committee as mentioned in the POSH act and to disclose such information. Such mandates have been vital in bringing positive changes in the workplace, especially for the safety and security of women employees. And when accompanying legislations make changes implementing the statutes of the POSH Act, they will collectively contribute to bringing forward happier and safe workplaces.
THE AMENDMENT OF 2019
The year 2019 brought a landmark amendment to the POSH act. The Ministry of women and child development issued a public notice stating that any business in Telangana with 10 or more employees must immediately register their IC with the State She-box site by July 15th, 2019. This is so that officials can track better an organization’s sexual harassment compliance prevention status in the area.
Similarly, the Maharashtra government sent out a strongly worded letter, urging all enterprises to fill out a form detailing their Posh compliance status and internal committee by July 20th, 2019, and present it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
Such actions were not just restricted to two states. Soon on November 25th, 2020, the Government of Karnataka?s women commission released an order which said that all organizations with ten or more employees must form a Posh internal committee and send complete information to the Karnataka State Commission for Women via email, post, or hand within seven days (it was circulated between December 28th, 2020, and January 4th, 2021)
Furthermore, the circular specified that if organizations failed to do so, the Ministry would assume that the internal committee had not been formed and would take action under the POSH Act with disobedience resulting in a fine of up to INR 50,000, apart from the cancellation of license to do business (in case of repetition).
The Pune Women and Child Development Department have requested that all government, semi-government, and private establishments establish a Posh IC by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention, and Redressal) Act of 2013. You may read about this in brief on their website (the link is attached here https://cecureus.com/posh-compliance-for-offices-in-pune-and-nanded-district-of-maharashtra/).
Such dynamic moves give a clear impression to businesses and employers that the Prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace act is not a mere word. Instead, this legislation serves a bigger purpose of curbing sexual harassment against women employees and offering them safe and secure workplaces.
THE ROAD AHEAD?
We can proudly say that we are marching in the right direction, but we have not reached our destination. We have seen how the Posh act came into life, from the Bhanwari Devi Judgement to the POSH Act. It has been a remarkable legacy, and it is up to us now to not stop but to march until this evil of sexual harassment has left our society forever. So whomsoever is reading it, ensure that you act as a responsible employee, employer, and most importantly, a responsible citizen. This change can only come through the collective effort, and history is a precedent of this fact.
About the Author
Hemansh Tandon is a final-year law student from Indraprastha University. He is an avid reader and has a keen interest in writing prose and verses.