News & Notes 794:Report of the Working Committee of the month of March 2019
Report of the Working Committee of the month of March 2019
The main topics of these months were:
1) Visit new Governing Board member.
- The new member of the Governing Board, Shri M. Madan Gopal I.A.S. (Rt’d), former additional Chief Secretary Karnataka, paid a brief visit to Auroville from March 19th - 21st. Information on Shri Madan Gopal has been published on the Auronet.
2) Minutes Governing Board meeting.
- The minutes of the meeting of the Governing Board meeting held on February 27th are still awaited.
3) Visit to Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi and visit to Auroville by the FRRO
- On behalf of the Working Committee, Mandakini and François visited the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, on March 25th. The next day, the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer, Mr. Xavier Dhanraj, paid a visit to Auroville and interacted with the community in an open meeting at the Unity Pavilion. We are awaiting the official information from the Ministry / FRRO about the announced policy changes and the status of those who have been refused re-entry into India.
4) Auroville Foundation (Admission and Termination of persons in the Register of Residents) Regulations 2019.
- The Secretary, Auroville Foundation, sent us the Auroville Foundation (Admission and Termination of persons in the Register of Residents) Regulations 2019, as approved by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. This approved version of the Regulations, although different is some ways, is as good as identical to the version submitted by the Governing Board to the Ministry in December 2013. A General Meeting on the Regulations will take place on Friday, April 12th at the Unity Pavilion, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, when these differences and similarities will be shared, and a discussion will take place on possible next steps for implementing these Regulations.
5) Update on disputed Land Purchase
- The disputed land purchase at Irumbai Revenue village R.S. No.426/1C2 with extend of 8.175 acres deed has been cancelled as advised by the Governing Board.
- The full amount, including sale consideration, stamp duty and registration charge have been recovered from the sellers. The Working Committee has thanked all the people who have been involved in the process of the recovery of this amount.
6) Sexual harassment (1)
- An Auroville resident who has been convicted of sexual harassment by the Auroville Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) set up under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, has refused to accept the decision and has challenged the constitution of the ICC and the fact that the Working Committee acts as ‘employer’ as mentioned in the Act.
- Following these objections, the Working Committee has been seeking a legal opinion on the matter.
- This opinion states that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act is a beneficial comprehensive legislation to the women society so as to provide a safe and secure work environment free from sexual harassment to every woman. The Act covers a wide range of work places and different forms of work relationships which is not restricted to the conventional meaning of the “employer-employee” relationship alone. It gives a vast definition to the term employee and hence is applicable to all such persons who are associated with an organization. The opinion concludes that the Auroville Sexual Harassment Policy and the constitution of the ICC and the fact that the Working Committee acts as ‘employer’ as mentioned in the Act are in agreement with the Act.
7) Sexual harassment (2)
- We have received two complaints about alleged sexual harassment, one of which also involves physical violence. These have been brought to the attention of the ICC.
8) Noise and drugs
- We received a letter from the Under Secretary, Auroville Foundation, expressing his concerns about the noise levels at gatherings exceeding the limits allowed and about rumours on the use of drugs. We have informed organizers accordingly.
9) Commercial disputes and disputes involving guesthouses
- The Working Committee receives complaints from clients of commercial units and guests of guesthouses / home stays about the goods or services provided by a commercial units or guesthouse or home stay. The Working Committee is not dealing with these kind of complaints. We have requested the Auroville Board of Commerce to setup a subgroup to deal with complaints about an Auroville commercial unit while the Guests Facilities Coordination Group has been asked to deal with all issues relating to Auroville guesthouses and home stays.
- The Working Committee is also involved in the following topics, which are still ongoing and not yet concluded:
- Entry cases: difficult ones (jointly with the Av Council and Entry Board)
- Revision and improvement of the Entry Policy, 2017 (jointly with the Av Council)
- Cases of misuse of Auroville name and symbol
- Garbage matter
- Kuilapalayam parking
- Highway, jointly with the HTF
- Mandate of the Auroville Council: currently not started
The Working Committee
Carel, Mandakini, Partha, Ranjith, Sauro