The Kerala State Information Commission has ordered the release of the Justice K Hema Committee report on sexual harassment and gender inequality in the Malayalam film industry, reported The Hindu.

The report was submitted to the state government more than four years ago.

On Saturday, State Information Commissioner A Abdul Hakkim directed that the entirety of the report be released, except sections that are prohibited from being made public under the Right to Information Act.

Hakkim also said that sensitive information, which could violate the privacy of individuals, should be withheld.

The three-member committee, comprising Justice Hema, veteran actor Sharada and former bureaucrat KB Valsalakumari, was formed in 2017, weeks after the Women In Cinema Collective’s met with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The collective had demanded a probe into the problems faced by women in the Malayalam film industry. This came in the aftermath of an alleged sexual-assault case involving actor Dileep.

On December 31, 2019, the Hema committee submitted its report to the Kerala government, reported The News Minute. However, the findings of the report were not made public.

Hakkim on Saturday lauded the state government for constituting the committee but criticised the cultural affairs department for “withholding information without carefully examining the intention of the petitioners”.

“This report comprises findings that are intended to course-correct and address the problems faced by women associated with a grand enterprise like cinema, which has the power to influence society,” Hakkim said, according to The News Minute. “It is not good for officials to conceal the contents of such a crucial report.”

Hakkim said that the long delay in releasing the report had undermined the purpose of constituting the committee.

WCC welcomes order

On Sunday, the Women in Cinema Collective welcomed the Kerala State Information Commission’s order, saying it “breaks the long and disappointing silence”.

“We would like to revisit many questions that we have continued asking over the years as the Justice Hema Committee report once again surfaces and becomes the topic of discussion,” the collective said in a statement.

It added: “Suggesting to implement solutions without revealing the findings was an exercise of mockery of the system. Hence, we strongly believe that this move to reveal the findings with accountability can be an authentic basis for real solutions, change, and progress.”

The collective said that the report would benefit future generations and “has the potential to ensure that it can effectively address the gender imbalances and unjust practices prevailing in the industry”.

“Let this be a starting point to rewrite existing injustice in the industry and bring about more gender-inclusive and balanced workspaces,” read the group’s statement.

‘Report can’t be made public’

In March 2022, the Kerala government had said that the Hema committee report could not be made public as it contained the personal experiences of women in the industry, reported The Indian Express.

“Besides, the state information commission has ordered that the commission report cannot be published as such since it contains personal experiences of individuals,” Saji Cherian, Kerala’s cultural affairs minister at the time, had told the state Assembly.

Cherian also claimed that the committee members had wanted the report to be kept confidential. He said that the committee had recommended the implementation of the Kerala Cine Exhibitors and Employees Regulation Act, 2020, and the formation of a tribunal to address issues that women in the Malayalam cinema industry face.

The state government had no qualms about releasing the report, Cherian claimed after the information commission’s Saturday order, reported The New Indian Express.