Understanding the Local Complaints Committee Established by the POSH Act of 2013

The Local Complaints Committee (LCC) is a key component of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, commonly known as the POSH Act. The POSH Act was enacted to address the issue of sexual harassment of women in workplaces and to provide a mechanism for the prevention, prohibition, and redressal of such complaints.

Under the POSH Act, it is mandatory for every workplace employing ten or more employees to establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address complaints of sexual harassment. However, in workplaces where the number of employees is less than ten or in places where it is not possible to constitute an ICC due to any valid reason, the Act provides for the establishment of a Local Complaints Committee (LCC). In addition to ICCs, the act also provides for the establishment of Local Complaints Committees (LCCs) in every district of India.

The LCC serves as an alternative mechanism to handle complaints of sexual harassment in smaller workplaces or those lacking an ICC. It operates at the district level and is responsible for receiving, inquiring into, and redressing complaints of sexual harassment. The LCC comprises of a chairperson and four other members, at least half of whom should be women.

The LCC has similar powers and functions as an ICC. It has the authority to conduct inquiries, recommend actions, and aid the victim. It is empowered to summon witnesses, record evidence, and maintain confidentiality during the proceedings. The LCC is also responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Act at the district level and submitting annual reports to the appropriate authorities.

It’s important to note that the details and structure of the LCC may vary from state to state within India, as the Act allows for some flexibility in its implementation. Therefore, it is advisable to refer to the specific guidelines and provisions outlined by the state government or appropriate authorities for accurate and up-to-date information regarding the Local Complaints Committee in a particular jurisdiction.

The LCC is a body established by the district officer or the district magistrate to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the ICC has not been constituted due to the small number of employees or any other reason. The LCC receives complaints of sexual harassment from the employees of such establishments and takes necessary action.

The LCC comprises of members from different backgrounds including women’s rights activists, NGOs, and other local government officials. The committee conducts investigations into complaints received and submits its report to the district officer or magistrate, who then takes appropriate action.

The LCC also has the power to monitor the implementation of the POSH Act within the district, create awareness about the act, and conduct workshops and training programs on preventing sexual harassment. The LCC also acts as an appellate body for the ICC in case of an appeal made by either the complainant or the respondent against the ICC’s decision.

The establishment of LCCs provides an additional layer of protection to women employees in small establishments or organizations where ICCs may not be in place. It ensures that women employees have a platform to report incidents of sexual harassment and receive justice.

Here are some key points to understand about the Local Complaints Committee:

Composition: The LCC consists of the following members:

a. Presiding Officer: woman employed at a senior level within the organization or an external person with expertise in dealing with sexual harassment cases.

b. At least two members from amongst employees or NGOs committed to women’s rights.

c. One member from any related field, such as social work or human rights.

Functions: The LCC’s main functions include receiving complaints of sexual harassment, conducting inquiries into the complaints, helping the complainant during the inquiry process, and recommending appropriate actions and redressal measures.

Jurisdiction: The LCC has jurisdiction over the workplace where the complaint arises. It has the authority to investigate complaints of sexual harassment filed by any woman, whether she is an employee, an intern, or a visitor to the workplace.

Responsibilities: The LCC has several responsibilities, including:

a. Receiving complaints of sexual harassment from employees, or any person associated with the organization.

b. Conducting inquiries or investigations into the complaints.

c. Submitting a report to the employer within 10 days of receiving the complaint.

d. Recommending appropriate actions to the employer based on the inquiry findings.

e. Monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and providing follow-up reports.

Complaint Procedure: The POSH Act defines a specific procedure for filing complaints with the LCC. The complainant should submit the complaint in writing to the LCC, either in person or through email. The LCC is required to maintain confidentiality throughout the inquiry process.

Timeframe: The LCC is mandated to complete the inquiry within 90 days from the receipt of the complaint. If the LCC finds the accused guilty, it can recommend disciplinary action against the offender, such as warning, reprimand, transfer, or termination of employment.

Powers: The LCC has certain powers similar to that of a civil court, such as summoning and examining witnesses, receiving evidence, and obtaining documents relevant to the inquiry.

Reporting: The LCC is required to submit an annual report to the employer, highlighting the number of complaints received, their disposal, and the action taken. The employer, in turn, must forward a copy of this report to the district officer.

Confidentiality and Protection: The LCC ensures the confidentiality of the complainant and the respondent throughout the inquiry process. It also has the power to recommend measures to protect the complainant from victimization or retaliation.

Inquiry Process: The LCC conducts an impartial inquiry into the complaint by giving both the complainant and the respondent an opportunity to present their case. The committee is required to complete the inquiry within 90 days from the receipt of the complaint.

Redressal Measures: After completing the inquiry, the LCC recommends appropriate actions to the employer or the competent authority within the organization. These actions may include disciplinary action against the respondent, providing monetary compensation to the complainant, or any other measure to prevent the recurrence of harassment.

It’s important to note that the specific details and procedures related to the Local Complaints Committee may vary slightly from state to state in India, as the POSH Act allows states to formulate their own rules. Therefore, it’s advisable to refer to the rules and guidelines specific to your state for more accurate and detailed information.