Full Form of GSICC is : Gender Sensitisation Internal Complaints Committee, In 2013, the Parliament passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Subsequently, the Supreme Court framed regulations for the protection of women against sexual harassment in the Supreme Court. Under the regulations, the Chief Justice of India is required to constitute a Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC). It’s objective is to sensitise the public on gender issues and to address sexual harassment complaints within the Supreme Court precinct.
Even before the #MeToo movement, there were provisions such as the Vishaka Guidelines that criminalised sexual harassment in the workplace. In Vishaka v State of Rajasthan, the court ruled that sexual harassment violates rights of the women under Article14, 15, 19(1)(g), 21 of the Constitution of India. Women deserve the right to carry on any occupation in a secure environment, as well as the right to dignity that comes within the ambit of the right to life. This was later codified in law in the form of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which mandates the creation of a Complaints Committee constituted by majority female members and led by a woman. Additionally, the involvement of a third party, well versed with sexual harassment concerns, is also an essential part of this committee.
Who can file a complaint?
An aggrieved woman can file a complaint in writing to the GSICC through its member secretary through a notified form. While the definition of an aggrieved women includes women of all ages whether employed or not, it excludes “a female already governed by the Supreme Court Service regulations”. Therefore, female court staffers have to file a complaint under the Supreme Court Service and Conduct Rules, 1961.
Composition of the GSICC
The GSICC includes 7–13 members including:
One or two judges of the Supreme Court
One or two senior members of the Supreme Court, with at least 20 years of membership of the Supreme Court Bar Association, to be nominated by the Chief Justice, one of whom has to be a woman;
One or two members to be elected by General Ballot of the Supreme Court Bar Association who shall be registered members of the Supreme Court Bar Association for at least ten years out of whom at least one shall be a woman;
One woman member being a member of the Advocates on Record Association, elected by General Ballot of the Advocates on Record Association;
One woman member being a member of the Supreme Court Clerks Association, elected by General Ballot of the Supreme Court Clerks Association;
Two outside members (having experience in social justice, women empowerment, gender justice, among others) to be nominated by the CJI. The Regulations require the majority of the members of GSICC to be women
One woman officer in the service of the Supreme Court of India, not below the rank of a Deputy Registrar, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, who shall function as the Member Secretary of the GSICC;
Any other member that the Chief Justice may deem fit to nominate
Process of inquiry.
If the GSICC is satisfied that the complaint is genuine, it will constitute a three-member Internal Sub-Committee to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into the complaint. This committee will look into the complaint and record statements from both parties. If this Internal Sub-Committee concludes that the allegation has been proved, it will submit its report to the GSICC to pass appropriate orders within 45 days. The report of the sub-committee is to be completed within 90 days of the constitution of the Internal Sub-Committee, and forwarded to the GSICC within 10 days of completion.
If the Sub-Committee concludes that the allegation against the Respondent is not proved then they will not recommend any action to the GSICC. However, if they conclude that the allegations are true then they will recommend that the GSICC take appropriate actions.
If more than two-thirds of the GSICC members differ from the conclusion of the Committee, it will, after hearing the complainant and the accused, record its reasons for differing and pass orders.
The GSICC has the power to: (i) to pass an order of admonition, which could also be published in the court precinct, or (ii) pass an order to prohibit the accused from communicating with the complainant, or (iii) pass any other order to end the sexual harassment faced by the complainant. GSICC may also recommend to the CJI to pass orders against the accused, including: (i) prohibiting entry of the accused into the Supreme Court for up to a year, or (ii) filing a criminal complaint before the concerned disciplinary authority governing the accused.
Any aggrieved person may make a representation to the CJI to set aside/modify the orders passed by the GSICC. The CJI also has the power to pass any orders in order to secure complete justice to the victim of sexual harassment. This should preferably be done within 90 days of the order/recommendation of the GSICC.