New guidelines to check sexual harassment cases in forces

The Union Home Ministry has issued a new set of guidelines for reporting sexual harassment cases in the forces, which has about 9,000 women personnel.

A new set of guidelines hasbeen issued by the Union Home Ministry to paramilitary forces on reporting sexual harassment cases in the forces, which has around 9,000 women personnel.

The Ministry has asked the forces – Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal, Central Industrial Security Force and National Security Guard – to submit monthly updates on such cases across the country.

The forces are now required to provide list of allegations, the present status of the case and the reasons for any pendencies in issuing final orders with regard to a complaint.
A senior official said the new format has been introduced to be vigilant in such cases as there more women personnel join the force. “We have to ensure that no case is brushed under carpet,” the official said.

The ministry has asked the forces to inform them about the occurrence of such instances right from the company level to (100 personnel), battalion (1,000 personnel), sector (5,000 about personnel) and frontier (more than 5,000 personnel) level. The new format, the official said, would streamline the process of complaints with regard to sexual harassment cases.

The present strength of women in these forces is around 9,000 while female employees constitute a few more thousands in their administrative setup of these forces. A woman officer heads the inquiry committee in these forces under the provisions of the Vishakha guidelines, ordered by the Supreme Court.

Several cases of sexual harassment at the workplace had come to light towards the end of 2013, including the one against Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal.

The official said the Tejpal case has nothing to do with the new format. “We always revise formats on such issues. It is an ongoing process,” the official said.

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