Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust
Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Policy
(Tapaswini Ashram: Last updated on 3rd April 2020)
This policy is formulated, approved and adopted by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust (“the SYVDA” or the “Organisation”) in terms of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, as may be amended from time to time (“the Act”) and other regulations including the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Policy may be amended from time to time as provided under the Act and any applicable laws.
The policy shall be applicable and extend to all the persons (including employees, consultants, teachers, students, guests, instructors and visitors) who are present at the workplace of SYVDA.
- “Act” shall mean the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, as may be amended from time to time read together with the rules made there under
- “Partner” shall mean the Partners of SYVDA
- “Internal Complaints Committee” or “ICC” shall mean the Internal Complaints Committee formed under this policy
- “Member” shall mean the Member of the Internal Complaints Committee formed under this policy
- “Organisation” or “SYVDA” shall mean Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust, including its associates, subsidiaries and joint ventures present or future
- “Policy” shall mean this Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy including its Annexure and exhibits and such other documents forming part of the Policy
- “Sexual Harassment” means any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour:
- Physical contact and advances; or
- A demand or request for sexual favours; or
- Making sexually coloured remarks; or
- Showing pornography; or
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
- Further, the following circumstances may amount to sexual harassment if it occurs or is present in relation to any other act of Sexual Harassment:
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in the Organisation;
- Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in the Organisation;
- Implied or explicit threat about present or future association with the Organisation;
- Interference with activities or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile environment; or
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety.
- “Workplace” shall mean the premises of SYVDA including the registered office, corporate office, branch office, parking space, transportation including an ashram, yoga centre, hospital or shop provided by SYVDA, any place visited by any person involved in SYVDA’s activities for the purpose of or in the course of such activities and any such area, building, place or space as may be specified by the SYVDA in this regard.
- Unless the context otherwise requires, words denoting the singular shall include the plural and vice versa and words importing a particular gender shall include all genders;
- A reference to a clause, annexure or schedule is, unless indicated to the contrary, a reference to a clause, annexure or schedule to this Policy;
- References to this Policy shall be construed to include any reference to Annexure to this Policy;
- The words “other”, or “otherwise” and “whatsoever” shall not be construed ejusdem generis or be construed as any limitation upon the generality of any preceding words or matters specifically referred to; and
- In addition to the terms defined in the description of the Parties: (a) all capitalized words and expressions defined by inclusion in quotation and / or parenthesis anywhere in this Agreement shall have the same meaning as ascribed to such words and expressions; and (b) unless the context otherwise requires, the terms and expressions defined shall bear the meanings as set out in Clause 1 and the General Clauses Act, 1897.
D. Prohibition of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace
The Organisation has a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to any instance of Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment at the Workplace, whether during or after office hours, is strictly prohibited under law and this policy. It is clarified that ‘workplace’ also includes any place visited in the course of or arising from activities in which any person is engaged with the organisation, including transportation provided by the Organisation (if applicable).
E. Internal Complaints Committee
The Organisation has constituted an Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”) to investigate into allegations of Sexual harassment at the Workplace. SYVDA reserves the right to add to, remove or replace the ICC members from time to time.
The constitution, working, manner of disposal is briefed in this policy and detailed herein as Annexure A to this Policy.
The Policy including the Annexure(s) shall be mandatorily provided to every person at the beginning of their engagement with SYVDA and such person shall acknowledge in writing that he/she has read the contents of the Policy and has fully understood the Policy.
Further, the details of the ICC and such details as specified in the Act shall be displayed prominently at a conspicuous place in the premises of SYVDA.
Any person engaged in activities with the Organisation who alleges to have been subjected to any act of Sexual Harassment at the workplace may make a complaint to the ICC. The aggrieved person may request the ICC to provide reasonable assistance for making the complaint in writing. In case the complainant is under any physical or mental incapacity, the complaint can be made by the legal heir or any other person authorized in writing by the complainant. The complaint should be made in writing or via email to the ICC as soon as possible, not later than 3 months from the date of occurrence of the incident alleged to constitute Sexual Harassment (in case of a series of incidents, within a period of 3 months from the date of the last incident).
Hard copy complaints should be submitted to Stuti Sharma, Assistant Director, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Tapaswini Ashram, Gudur, Andra Pradesh, India and email complaints should be sent to [email protected]. All complaints, whether in hard-copy or email form, should be clear and should include details of the incident or incidents, supporting documents, names of individuals involved and the name and addresses of the witnesses. The ICC may extend the time limit not exceeding three months, if it is satisfied that there were unavoidable circumstances which prevented the aggrieved person from filing a complaint within the said period.
Any manager or employee who becomes aware of an incident of Sexual Harassment should promptly report the same to the ICC.
If the complainant would like to initiate action under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), he/she may inform the ICC of the same, and the Organisation shall provide necessary assistance to file such complaint.
Before the ICC initiates an inquiry into the complaint, the complainant may request the ICC to settle the matter between the complainant and the respondent through conciliation before initiating an inquiry. However, no monetary statement shall be made on the basis of the conciliation. In the event a settlement has been reached, further inquiry shall not be conducted.
All claims of sexual harassment will be promptly and thoroughly investigated in accordance with the principles of natural justice and other provisions of the law. Neither the complainant nor the respondent shall be allowed to bring in any legal practitioner to represent them in their case at any stage of proceedings before the ICC.
The ICC shall submit an enquiry report to the Organisation’s authorized representative upon conclusion of the inquiry. The report of the ICC shall be deemed to be the enquiry report for purposes of any disciplinary rules applicable to the person against whom a sexual harassment claim was made. Where the ICC determines that the allegation against the respondent has been proved, it may recommend to the Organisation to take action for sexual harassment in accordance with the provisions of the Organisation’s applicable policies.
Complaints of sexual harassment shall be treated with sensitivity and confidentiality. Contents of the complaint, the identity and addresses of the complainant, respondent and witnesses, any information relating to conciliation and inquiry proceedings, recommendations of the ICC and the action taken by the Organisation shall be treated as confidential.
If any person entrusted with the duty to handle the complaint, inquiry or any recommendations of the ICC, contravenes his/her confidentiality obligation, he/she shall be liable to disciplinary action, in accordance with the provisions of the Organisation’s policies, as applicable.
K. Internal Complaints Committee
the Internal Complaints Committee is constituted with below members, who may be updated from time to time:
|Designation||Name of Member||Email Id|
|Presiding Officer||Stuti Sharma, Assistant Director||[email protected]|
|Member||Sandeep, Director||[email protected]|
|Member||Rachana P||[email protected]|
|External Member||Supreet K Singh (COO & Director, Red Dot Foundation)||[email protected]|
Working Rules for Internal Complaints Committee
In pursuance of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and the Rules framed there under, SYVDA hereby adopts the following procedure for determining complaints filed to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted under the Act. The procedure complies with the basic principles of natural justice and fair play and has to be adhered to in all complaints, though, in individual complaints, for reasons to be stated in writing, the ICC reserves the right to make exceptions to the procedure stated hereunder.
- Any aggrieved person may make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the ICC, within a period of three months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident. 6 copies of a written complaint should be submitted to the Committee or any of its members along with list of witnesses and supporting documents. Additional documents and list of witnesses can be submitted to ICC at a later stage during the proceeding. Provided that where such complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any other member of the ICC shall render all reasonable assistance to the person for making the complaint in writing. Provided further that the ICC for the reasons to be recorded in writing, can extend the time limit not exceeding three months, if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the person from filing a complaint within the said period.
- Any complaint received by the members should be immediately forwarded to the Presiding Officer, and this must be notified to other committee members at the earliest and not later than 3 days and a meeting should be called for discussing the matter.
- The ICC shall discuss and decide on its jurisdiction to deal with the case or reject the complaint prima facie and recommend to SYVDA that no action is required to be taken in the matter.
- Notice shall be issued to the respondent within 7 working days of receipt of the complaint and 10 working days shall be given for submission of reply (along with the list of witnesses and documents).
- The ICC will provide assistance to the aggrieved person, if he/she so chooses, to file a police complaint in relation to an offence under the Indian Penal Code.
- The ICC may, before initiating an inquiry, at the request of the aggrieved person, take steps to settle the matter between him/her and the respondent through conciliation.
- No monetary settlement shall be made as the basis of conciliation. Where a settlement has been arrived at, the ICC shall record the settlement so arrived and forward the same to the Organisation for necessary compliance.
- The ICC shall provide the copies of the settlement as recorded under (7) to the aggrieved person and the respondent. Where a settlement is arrived at, no further enquiry shall be conducted by the ICC.
- If conciliation is found to be not feasible, notice will be issued to both parties for hearing.
- The ICC may direct the Organisation to ensure safety and protection of the aggrieved person if and when required.
- As an interim measure, ICC may recommend
- The transfer of the aggrieved person or the respondent to another section or Department as deemed fit by the ICC
- Grant leave to the aggrieved person up to a period of three months or;
- Restrain the respondent from exercising any administrative authority or supervision or academic evaluation of the aggrieved person
- Grant such other relief to the aggrieved person as the case may require.
- The ICC shall proceed to make inquiry into the complaint in accordance with the provisions of the service rules applicable to the respondent considering sexual harassment as misconduct.
- The Presiding Officer shall convene the first hearing of the inquiry. The respondent, the aggrieved person and the witnesses shall be intimated at least 7 working days in advance in writing of the date, time and venue of the enquiry proceedings. The subsequent proceedings may be conducted on a day to day basis, to be decided by ICC.
- The ICC shall provide reasonable opportunity to the aggrieved person and the respondent for presenting and defending her/his case.
- The ICC may at any time during the enquiry proceedings, preclude the face to face examination of the respondent and the aggrieved person and/or their witnesses keeping in view the need to protect the aggrieved person or the witnesses from facing any serious health and/or safety problems.
- The ICC may call any person to appear as a witness if it is on the opinion that it shall be in the interest of justice. The aggrieved person/respondent has to submit the written reply before the committee within the specified time given.
- The ICC shall have the right to summon, as many times as required, the respondent, aggrieved person and/or any witnesses for the purpose of supplementary testimony and/or clarifications.
- The ICC shall have the power to summon any official papers or documents pertaining to the aggrieved person as well as the respondent.
- The past sexual history of the aggrieved person shall not be probed into as such information shall be deemed irrelevant to a complaint of a sexual harassment.
- The ICC shall have the right to terminate the enquiry proceedings and to give an ex-party decision on the complaint, should the respondent fail, without valid ground, to be present for three consecutive hearings convened by the Presiding Officer.
- The aggrieved person and the respondent, or any one person on her/his behalf, shall have the right to examine written transcripts of the recordings with the exclusion of witnesses’ names and identifies. No person who has been found guilty of the sexual harassment shall be accepted as a nominee. The aggrieved person/respondent should inform the Presiding Officer specifically if they wish to exercise this right. The Presiding Officer shall allow access to such documents on a specific date to be intimated at least two days in advance to each of the parties concerned. At no point in time, however, can the concerned parties take these documents outside the office.
- The aggrieved person and the respondent shall be responsible for presenting their witnesses before the committee. However, if the ICC is convinced that the absence of either of the parties to the dispute is on valid grounds, the ICC shall adjourn that particular meeting of the ICC for a period not exceeding five days. The meeting so adjourned shall be conducted thereafter, even if the person concerned fails to appear for the said adjourned meeting without prior intimation/valid ground.
- All proceedings of the ICC shall be recorded in writing. The record of the proceedings and the statement of witnesses shall be endorsed by the persons concerned as well as the committee members present in token authenticity thereof. In case the minutes cannot be reduced in writing the same day, an audio recording of the proceedings may be made, and the written proceedings will be authenticated on a next available opportunity.
- If the aggrieved person desires to tender any documents by way of evidence, the ICC can supply true copies of such documents to the respondent. Similarly, if the respondent desires to tender any documents in evidence, the ICC shall supply true copies of such documents to the aggrieved person.
- In the event the ICC thinks that supplementary testimony is required, the Presiding Officer shall forward to the persons concerned a summary of the proceedings and allow for a time period of seven days to submit such testimony, in person or in writing, to the ICC.
- The aggrieved person and the respondent shall have the right of cross-examination of all witnesses. However, such cross-examination shall be conducted in the form of written questions and responses via the ICC only. The respondent shall have no right to directly cross examine the aggrieved person or his/her witnesses.
- The respondent/aggrieved person may submit to the ICC, a written list of questions that he/she desires to pose to the aggrieved person/witness. The ICC shall retain the right to disallow any questions that it has reasons to believe to be irrelevant, mischievous, slanderous, derogatory or gender-insensitive.
- Amicus curie can be called for helping the committee if and when required.
- After concluding its investigation, the ICC shall submit a detailed reasoned report to SYVDA.
- If the ICC finds no merit in the allegations, it shall report to SYVDA.
- In the event the ICC finds that the allegation(s) against the respondent have been proved, it shall recommend the nature of action to be taken by SYVDA. The following actions may be recommended:
- A written apology
- Reprimand or censure
- Withholding of promotion
- Withholding of pay rise or increments
- Undergoing a counselling session
- Carrying out of community service
- Terminating the respondent from service
- Any other punishment according to the service rules applicable to the respondent
- When the ICC arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious or the aggrieved person or any other person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the aggrieved person or any other person making the complaint has produced any forged or misleading document, it may be recommended to SYVDA to take action against such falsification.
- Nothing precludes the Organisation’s authority from taking cognizance of any new fact or evidence which may arise or be brought before it during the pendency of the inquiry proceedings or even after the communication of the findings to appropriate SYVDA authorities.
- If the allegation(s) is/are proved against the respondent, the ICC may direct SYVDA to ensure the payment of compensation to the aggrieved person by the respondent. The determination of compensation to the aggrieved person shall be decided based on the following facts:
- The mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the aggrieved person
- The loss of career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment
- Medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical or psychiatric treatment
- The income and financial status of the respondent
- Feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments.
- SYVDA authorities will file a compliance report to the ICC within 30 days of issuance of such recommendation.
- ICC shall have the necessary powers to take suo-moto notice of incidents of sexual harassment and/or gender injustice in the Workplace and act against the same in such manner as it deems appropriate.
- The identity of the aggrieved person, respondent, witnesses and proceedings of the ICC and its recommendations and the action taken by SYVDA shall not be published, communicated or made known to the public, press or media in any manner and it will be outside the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- No legal practitioner will be allowed to represent either the aggrieved person or the respondent in proceedings before the ICC.
- The ICC has the powers of a civil court in the following cases:
- Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person related to the incident
- Requiring the discovery and production of any documents
- Any other matter relating to the incident as decided by the ICC from time to time.
- The aggrieved person or respondent may prefer an appeal to the competent authority