Vikash Sharma

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to vice-chancellors of all universities and principals of all colleges to conduct special drive to create awareness through workshops for their employees about the provisions of the Sexual Harrassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013.

This is in accordance with the Ministry of Education directive to ensure that a special drive be conducted in all autonomous bodies/ public sector undertakings and higher educational institutions. Apart from conducting sensitising workshops for their employees, the Ministry has also asked to observe discrimination against women pakhwada from November 25 to December 10, 2022.

Similarly, Internal Complaints Committees have also been asked to conduct special drive to review the pending cases and take action before December 9, 2022.

“I request you to conduct special drive to review the pending cases if any and take appropriate action before December 9. The details of programme/activities conducted by your institution may be provided to gender sensitisation division of UGC by December 11, 2022,” UGC secretary’s letter to vice-chancellors of universities and principals of colleges read.

It is pertinent to mention here that UGC had notified the UGC (Prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and students in higher educational institutions) Regulations, 2015. These regulations clearly state the responsibilities of higher educational institutions, grievance redressal mechanism, process for making complaint and conducting inquiry interim redressal, punishment and compensation, consequences of non-compliance etc. The regulations are statutory in nature and binding for universities and colleges.

Key Highlights

The Sexual Harrassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013 was notified on December 9, 2013 to provide a safe and secure environment to women at the workplace. Sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to safe environment free from sexual harassment.

The protection against sexual harassment and the right to work with dignity are universally recognised human rights by international conventions and instruments such as Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women, which has been ratified on June 25, 1993 by the Government of India.