Malayalam film production houses have to form an Internal Committee (IC) as per the the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the Kerala High Court said on Thursday, 17 March.
The order by the court came after it heard public interest litigation filed by the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), who had pleaded that a grievance redressal mechanism needs to be established in the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and in other organisations like the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA).
The bench said that AMMA has agreed to constitute an IC, and other cine organisations with more than 10 members must also have an IC as is mandated.
The bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly read out the operative part of the judgment in court.
The WCC had made it clear that they would strive to fight against gender disparity in Malayalam cinema. As a part of this, the organisation went to court in October 2018 asking for internal committees to be set up in Malayalam movie organisations as per the POSH Act.
When the PIL had initially been filed by the WCC, the state of Kerala and AMMA had been named as the respondents. The Centre for Constitutional Rights Research and Advocacy then joined the petition and widened its ambit, stating that internal committees must be formed also in media houses and political parties.
The Kerala Women’s Commission also filed an impleading application in the matter and strengthened the plea. In a petition at the high court, the Commission said that the state government must ensure that AMMA sets up an IC in line with the Vishaka guidelines and the POSH Act.
In the operative part of the order read out by the court on Thursday, apart from film organisations, media houses too have been directed to have ICs in accordance with the POSH Act.
AMMA, which had been resisting forming a committee for years, decided to form one last week just before the order in the petition was pronounced. However, this IC does not have an external member as is required, and the organisation has said this will be done later.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)