BCCI apex council ratifies Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy

The BCCI apex council ratified its Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy on Monday and made it clear that the Board had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for any form of harassment at the workplace.

Until now, the board did not have a specific policy to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. - REUTERS

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) apex council ratified its Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy on Monday and made it clear that the Board had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for any form of “harassment – including sexual harassment – at the workplace.”

In a detailed document, which Sportstar has seen, the BCCI specified that the main purpose of the policy was “to promote a safe working environment for women, free from sexual harassment, in which persons of both sexes work as equals and complement each other in a way that encourages maximum productivity.”

According to the Policy, sexual harassment includes “physical contact and advances; or demand or request for sexual favours; or making sexually coloured remarks; or showing pornography; or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.”

Implied or explicit promise of “preferential treatment in employment; or implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status; or interference with work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety,” will also amount to harassment.

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The office bearers, members of the Apex Council, IPL Governing Council, any committee of the BCCI and representatives of the BCCI and any person connected with the Governance and Management of the affairs of the BCCI or its Committees will have to abide by the policy, along with all employees of the BCCI - whether engaged on contract basis or otherwise or on a full-time basis. All players of national teams, including players of the senior team, India ‘A’, under-19, under-16, under-23 teams or any team representing the BCCI, all commentators contracted by the BCCI, all team officials and support staff, selectors, doctors, physiotherapists, analysts and massage therapists, too, will have to abide by the Policy. 

The Policy is also applicable for all on-field umpires, off-field umpires, referees and other match officials contracted by the BCCI, all production crew and camera crew contracted by the BCCI and all players, match officials, team officials and administrators involved in IPL and its franchises.

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A four-member Internal Complaints Committee, which will look into the issue, will be formed. The presiding officer of the committee shall be a woman employed at a senior level at the workplace; along with her, there will be two members - who will be selected from among the employees, preferably who are committed to the cause of women or have experience in social work or have legal knowledge. 

The fourth member of the IC will be selected from a Non-Governmental Organisation or an association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment. “At least one-half of the members of the IC will be women. The Presiding Officer and every member of the IC will hold office for a period, not exceeding three years from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the BCCI,” the document stated.

“While conducting the inquiry, a minimum of three members of the IC, including the Presiding Officer and the External Member, will be present. The BCCI may, at its discretion, constitute a larger internal committee by including representatives from various offices/locations, committees and even State Associations (“National IC”), which shall be in accordance with the requirements under the Act.”

The report also has outlined the punishments. "If any BCCI Personnel is found to be guilty of sexual harassment by the Committee or of any of the actions set out in the Policy, the BCCI shall impose or cause to be imposed, inter alia, one or more of the following penalties against such BCCI Personnel," the BCCI said in note and mentioned the punishments which are (a) Censure; (b) Counselling; (c) Carrying out community service; (d) Warning; (e) Fine; (f) Loss of pay; (g) Loss of seniority; (h) Withholding of promotion or pay rise/increments; (i) Termination of contract/employment with or without notice or compensation in lieu of notice; (j) Appropriate legal proceedings; (k) Written apology; and/or," the document state

Until now, the board did not have a specific policy to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. It had formed an internal committee in 2018 after sexual harassment allegations surfaced against the then CEO Rahul Johri, who quit last year.

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