As per "The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition,
and Redressal) Act, 2013, any aggrieved women may make a complaint in writing of
sexual harassment to the Internal Committee, within the period of three months
from the date of incidence. The Internal Committee shall make an inquiry into
the complaint, and for the purpose of making an inquiry the Internal Committee
shall be having same powers as vested in civil court under the Code of Civil
The Internal Committee may summon and enforce the attendance of any person and
examine him under oath. An inquiry shall be completed within the period of
ninety days. On completion of an inquiry the Internal Committee shall report its
findings to the employer within the period of Ten days.
Conciliation Under POSH Act, 2013
As per section 10 of the Act, the aggrieved women may make a request to the
Internal Committee as she is ready to settle the matter with the respondent
amicably. Such a request shall be made before initiating an inquiry proceeding.
According to her request for conciliation, the Internal Committee shall call
both the parties and shall try to settle the matter by mutual consent, without
any monetary settlement. If the matter is settled in the Conciliation process,
no further inquiry shall be conducted. The Internal Committee shall inform the
employer and submit a copy of the settlement.
This conciliation process facilitates settling the matter without any hassles,
avoids further investing time in conducting an inquiry proceeding, recording the
statements, and verifying the documentary evidence submitted by both the parties
in support of their own case. As the settlement in the conciliation process is
done with the mutually agreed terms and conditions it improves the interpersonal
relationships and overall culture of the workplace.
The members of the Internal Committee shall be trained in handling such a
situation. Concerted effort shall be made to settle the matter amicably and
achieve success in the process of conciliation. As this is as per the choice of
women employee, there should not be any pressure on her for any settlement.
It is in the interest of individuals as well as from an organization that there
be a fearless environment in the organization where all employees shall work
with confidence. The entire team shall put their efforts into achieving the
organization's Vision and Mission and shall be able to work with optimum
Conciliation under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
We can find a similar provision under the Industrial Dispute Act. Under Section
4 of the Act, the Appropriate Government (Central or State) shall make an
appointment for a conciliation officer, for the purpose of mediating and
promoting the settlement of industrial dispute.
Earlier the Indian Trade Dispute Act, 1929 was in force. There was a machinery
for settlement of dispute under the Act, it was not the "Conciliation officer"
but it was the "Board of conciliation". It was found inadequate at that time for
settlement of dispute hence the Act was amended and inserted section 18-A
whereby the Central and Provincial Governments were authorized to appoint
"Conciliation Officers". The same provision was taken while enacting the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
This provision was helpful in making mediation in settling the industrial
dispute, this process wherein a third party attempts to achieve settlement of
The conciliation officer has wide powers while handling the process. The
conciliation process becomes mandatory if any organization is under Public
Utility Services. If the strike and/or lockout notice has been given by either
party in PUS the conciliation officer has to intervene immediately. The
conciliation process can be started where the actual dispute has yet to be
started as there is no notice by either party, but if conciliation officer has
any apprehension of arising industrial dispute is sufficient for him to initiate
the conciliation process.
The Conciliation officer can enforce attendance of parties, and he has vested
similar rights and powers as it is vested in the Civil Court under Code of Civil
Procedure. If the conciliation officer succeeded in making settlement during the
conciliation process, the conciliation officer shall communicate the same to the
appropriate government and shall provide a copy of settlement.
But many times, the conciliation process fails as the parties are not willing to
settle the matter amicably. It is treated as a failure of conciliation
proceedings; it is the duty of the conciliation officer to communicate by
failure report to the appropriate government. Now the appropriate government may
refer this dispute for adjudication process to the Industrial court or Tribunal.
The Conciliation officer is not competent to hear and decide any of the points
raised by either party but all he can do is try to persuade the parties to come
to a fair and amicable settlement. His duties are purely administrative and not
judicial or quasi-judicial.
There is special reason for making a settlement under conciliation proceedings
as the settlement is applicable to all employees otherwise it is a bi-lateral
agreement and applicable to those who have agreed and signed.
Conciliation proceedings under The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996
After economic reforms of 1991, there was lot of efforts taken to attract the
foreign investors and to provide comfortable environment at par with other
countries for doing business in India, The Arbitration and Conciliation Act was
brought into force and repealed earlier law of 1940. Under this law the parties
of dispute can initiate the conciliation process if they have agreed for
Otherwise, one party can send invitation to other party for conciliation, and if
other party accepts the invitation within thirty days, the proceeding may be
commenced, if the other party fails to accept the invitation, it is treated as
the invitation rejected. Since the process is not mandatory the agreement
between the parties for conducting Conciliation is necessary. In this process
the conciliator shall act as an independent person and shall assist the parties
for an amicable settlement. The conciliator is not bound by the provisions of
the Civil Procedure code or the Evidence Act.
The parties shall not initiate during the conciliation proceedings any arbitral
or judicial proceedings in respect to the same dispute. The conciliator cannot
act as an Arbitrator, or representative or counsel of either party. The
conciliator cannot be brought as witness by either party in any arbitral or
judicial proceedings. Any proceedings or views or proposals made during the
conciliation proceedings cannot be brought as evidence in other proceedings.
Difference in the conciliation proceedings under three different laws:
Irrespective of the basic aim of conciliation proceedings is to bring amicable
settlement between the parties, there are certain differences between the three
- Type of dispute:
Under POSH Act the aggrieved women can file criminal complaint. On the other
hand, under the Industrial Disputes Act the basic purpose is to handle
labour matters smoothly and maintain industrial peace. And Under the
Arbitration and conciliation Act, it is a matter of civil nature, may or may
not be contractual.
Under POSH Act the Internal Committee act as the conciliator and aggrieved
women at her mercy can initiate the conciliation proceedings. Under the
Industrial Disputes Act the conciliation officer is appointed by the
government, he is the officer of the labour department, he is an expert in
the field of handling labour matters. Under the Arbitration and conciliation
Act, the conciliator is as per the choice of the parties.
- Commencement of proceedings:
Under POSH Act the aggrieved women can make a request to Internal Committee
that she is interested to settle the matter with respondent through
conciliation. Under the Industrial Disputes Act the conciliation officer
appointed by the government may start conciliation proceedings for an
existing industrial dispute or he is having any apprehension of any such
industrial dispute. And Under the Arbitration and conciliation Act both
parties must be agreed on the point that the disputed matter can be settled
mutually and through conciliation proceedings.
Optimum care shall be taken while handling matters under the POSH Act
Any complaint by aggrieved women regarding Sexual Harassment is not easy,
because she has always apprehension that other employees may come to know about
her complaint, for the purpose she is always trying to maintain confidentiality.
Also, it's the responsibility of the Internal Committee to maintain
confidentiality of any details of the case.
The inquiry is being conducted according to the principles of natural justice
hence both the parties shall be given an equal opportunity of being heard. Both
parties can submit the documents in support of their case. All stages of an
inquiry shall be followed, and fair opportunity shall be given to both the
If the Internal Committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against
the respondent by the complainant women are malicious or the complainant women
has made the complaint knowing it to be false or submitted such document which
are forged or misleading document, the Internal Committee can recommend
disciplinary action against the woman for such false complaint.
Section 11 of the POSH Act, relating to conciliation plays an important role for
amicable settlement between the parties, here both parties along with the
Internal Committee discuss for amicable settlement, but only on condition that
any monetary settlement is prohibited under this Act.