Home Minister Amit Shah To Head Panel On Workplace Sexual Harassment

A ministry spokesperson said Wednesday that Home Minister Amit Shah will chair a panel of four cabinet ministers to examine ways to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

The other members of the reconstituted group of Ministers are: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani.

“The group of ministers was set up on July 18 since the previous panel lapsed ahead of the formation of the new government,” spokesman Shelat Harit Ketan said.

“There has been negative publicity, hardly any cases have been filed,” said prominent women’s rights activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes. “Complainants are afraid of approaching the courts or filing criminal complaints.”

Opposition Congress lawmaker Sushmita Dev also called the government’s decision a knee-jerk reaction to criticism of its failure to make public the findings of the earlier panel.

“It is a foregone conclusion that nothing was done in the past. That is why the proceedings were hidden,” she said. “The new committee should hold consultations with all stakeholders and thoroughly examine existing legislation.”

The #MeToo movement triggered a public outcry in the country, with former junior Foreign Minister M J Akbar and Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi among dozens of high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct.

M J Akbar is suing one of his accusers, while Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was cleared of sexual misconduct by a panel of judges in May, to protests.

Abha Boyal

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