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Malayalam film production units must form sexual harassment panels: Kerala high court

The directive came as a response to a plea by the Women's Cinema Collective seeking a grievance redressal mechanism for the industry. 

Our Correspondent

In a milestone directive, the Kerala high court on 17 March stated that film production units must form an internal complaints committee (ICC) as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The court also held that related associations such as the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) and the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce that have more than 10 working members or employees, should also constitute an ICC. 

The legal website LiveLaw.in, quoted the division bench comprising chief justice S Manikumar and justice Shaji P Chaly as stating, "So far as the film industry is concerned, the film production unit is the workplace of an individual film and therefore, each production unit would have to constitute an internal complaints committee, which alone can deal with the harassment against the women in contemplation of the provisions of the Act, 2013." 

The court has also appealed to film bodies to establish a joint committee for redressal of women's complaints. The decision was a response to a public interest litigation filed by the Women's Cinema Collective (WCC) in the wake of the abduction and assault of an actress in 2017. Since then, actor Dileep, and five of his associates have been under investigation by the Kerala crime branch. 

The WCC, which comprises actresses Parvathy Thiruvothu and Rima Kallingal and director Anjali Menon and artiste-director Revathy, has been a key ally in helping women get their grievances redressed in the Malayalam film industry.

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Sexual harassment