A month after Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi asked all political parties to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), only the CPI(M) has confirmed that it has done so.
According to the Ministry, all major national political parties including the Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress have failed to provide any update on the formation of ICC under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act.
"Neither state nor national parties apart from the CPI(M) has reverted to us on ICC. We have not yet decided the next step," an official said.
Currently, there are seven national, 59 state and more than 2,000 registered unrecognized political parties in India, according to the Election Commission.
The CPI(M) told the Ministry that an ICC was formed after the Party Congress every three years.
Last month, following the MeToo movement, Gandhi urged all political parties to set up an internal committee to investigate sexual harassment charges.
The ICC, or the Internal Complaints Committee, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, of 2013 is mandatory by law in organisations to receive complaints about the sexual harassment of women. As per the law, any organisation or unit that has 10 or more employees must have an ICC, headed by a senior woman of the unit. 50% of its members have to be women and needs to have one external woman member (lawyer, NGO worker or social worker who has worked on womenâ€™s issues).
The ICCâ€™s function is to accept complaints of sexual harassment, conduct inquiry into the matter and come to a conclusion â€“ like a civil court. It must give recommendations for what action must be taken against the accused if heâ€™s found guilty like whether he should be suspended, fired, made to apologise and so on.
While women employees can choose to take a legal recourse, the ICC is a civil remedy that every employer must initiate. If the employer fails to constitute an ICC or take relevant action, he or she will be punished with a fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000.