India firms empanelled for awareness on harassment laws


India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development has empanelled law firms Counsel Quest, Integrity Law Offices, Legal Intellects and PAV Law Offices along with social organizations to hold awareness exercises in order to improve security for women at workplaces.

The ministry announced that 223 firms and social organizations have been empanelled as at November 2018. More than 50,000 participants had attended over 700 capacity building and awareness exercises on the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH).

“Empanelled institutions are shouldering the responsibility of spreading awareness about anti-sexual harassment laws through training sessions for employees of private and government organizations,” Rachna Roy, the founder of Counsel Quest, told Asia Business Law Journal.

She said organizations such as hers were working with companies to create and structure internal complaint committees (ICC) and help them to create awareness campaigns.

Nidhi Singh, a partner at Integrity Law Offices, said being empanelled by the ministry increases their credibility with companies looking to organize workshops on the POSH Act. “I have met the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and she said people should be made aware of the legal and grievance redressal mechanisms.”

Both Singh and Roy said the empanelment was not as a result of the MeToo movement. However, Singh said she was witnessing a greater willingness among in-house counsel and company management to conduct awareness programmes. The ministry requires empanelled organizations to submit reports each quarter on all the training programmes and workshop conducted by them.