By Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma
In a bid to enhance transparency and accountability, the Delhi government has introduced a new system for reporting sexual harassment complaints.
“Any complaints of sexual harassment within the Delhi government will now have to be logged online, instead of on paper”1
This move comes following directions from Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar and is a response to recent allegations of sexual harassment within the government. The decision to digitize the complaint process aims to streamline the handling of such cases and strengthen Internal Committees (ICs) while identifying officers with such repeated complaints.
The impetus for the digital transformation emerged in response to allegations of sexual harassment against a suspended deputy director of the Women and Child Development (WCD), Premoday Khakha, who allegedly raped and impregnated a minor under his care.
Ms. Atishi, the Hon’ble Minister of WCD, called for the establishment of a robust system to strengthen ICs and identify officers with a history of sexual harassment complaints.
The “exceptionally disturbing incident” is a wakeup call for us,” Atishi said while asking the Hon’ble Chief Secretary to draft comprehensive processes and rules for strengthening the redressal mechanisms across departments to avoid such incidents in future.2
In light of this, Hon’ble Chief Secretary Mr. Naresh Kumar instructed the training of IC members in dealing with cases of sexual harassment. Further, the Special Director, Union Territories Civil Services (UTCS) has been asked to arrange training sessions for members of ICs within a month.
While the training session of IC members have yet to commence, the Union Territories Civil Services has been actively providing training on sexual harassment since long. As per the official, it is reported that UTCs conducts regular training sessions on POSH once in a month, which is open to all government employees. Specific training for IC members took place on October 06, 2022 with 260 participants in attendance.
K Mahesh, Special Director, Training, UTCS said, “Training on sexual harassment at the workplace is a top priority as it involves the safety and security of women employees. We send our annual training calendar every year to all departments, followed by circulars to depute participants and member of the Internal Sexual Harassment Committee.”
The UTCS had organised 14 training programmes in the past six months with the next one scheduled for November.
To further tighten the effectiveness of ICs, a three-member panel consisting of three senior women bureaucrats has also been established. This panel will assess the functioning of the ICs and identify any shortcomings, if any.
The Delhi Government’s paradigm shift to online reporting of such complaints underscores their commitment to transparency and a streamlined approach to addressing these critical issues. The move is a significant step towards ensuring a safer and more accountable working environment for government employees. With continued training initiatives and oversight, the government aims to create a culture that prevents and promptly addresses such cases, thereby fostering a more inclusive and harmonious workplace for all.