An IC, as the name suggests, is an internal committee of a workplace to receive and redress complaints of sexual harassment. It is required to consist of a minimum of four members:
A Presiding Officer who has to be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace. She has to be from amongst the employees.
Two Members from amongst employees. The law says that for these two members, employers should prefer to have employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
One Member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment (“External Member”).
The law also states that at least half of the total Members of the IC should be women.
Who can be an External Member?
Anyone from amongst NGOs or associations that are committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
Yes, the External Member appointed from amongst the NGOs or associations is entitled to an allowance by the employer, of Rs. 200 per day for holding the proceedings of the IC and also the reimbursement of travel cost.
How to constitute an IC?
Every employer of a workplace has to constitute an IC by an order in writing.
Is there a term for the IC?
Yes, all the IC members can hold office for three years.
Can an IC member be removed before completion of the term?
Yes, the law provides for certain situations in which an IC member can be removed from the IC before completion of the term. The vacancy has to be refilled in accordance with provisions of the law.
Is an IC required to be registered with the Government?
The POSH Law does not specifically talk about registration. However different districts / states come out with their circulars / orders / notifications etc. requesting workplaces in their district to register their IC. So far the following States / Districts have stated so (click on the links to read more about what the specific requirements look like):
IC has powers of a Civil Court and it must follow principles of natural justice. It means that IC must conduct the thorough inquiry absolutely fairly, in a neutral manner and without any bias for or against anyone. Further, Delhi High Court in December, 2020 has stated in a decision that Internal Committee cannot do Moral Policing – Read more here.
What is the role of an External Member?
The Supreme Court of India in February 2020 held that “…the purpose of having such a member is to ensure the presence of an independent person who can aid, advise and assist the Committee. It obviates an institutional bias…” – Click here to read more.
Can different entities have a common / joint Internal Committee?
No. Kerala High Court in September 2019 has held that inquiry into a complaint can be done only be the IC of the entity in which respondent works. All entities are separate and they must have their own IC – Click here to read more.
POSH at Work is an organization that believes that sexual harassment at workplace does not only cause mental and/or physical damage to the person harassed but also seriously curtails opportunities at work by creating a discriminatory work environment.