Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

NUJS drafts policy to deal with sexual harassment of interns

Justice AK Ganguly Justice AK Ganguly (Express archives)
Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Posted: March 6, 2014 12:29 am

Almost four months after a young law intern from the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata blogged about alleged sexual harassment by a retired supreme court Judge, NUJS has drafted guidelines to deal with any sexual harassment during internship of students. 

The guidelines are likely to come into force this month as a policy to deal with sexual harassment cases once the Executive Council (EC) accepts it. Important provisions include filing of an official complaint about any sexual harassment case by an intern orally or in writing to a member of the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) of the university or authorities including the Vice-Chancellor or warden if harassment is faced during internship.

The guidelines set 60 days for Internal Complaint Committee to investigate and submit its report. The NUJS decided to draft ‘guidelines’ and make it a “policy on sexual harassment during internship” after the retired Supreme Court Judge was prima facie held responsible in the case.

The urgency for a policy became pronounced after another NUJS intern claimed she too had been harassed by another Supreme Court judge. “Any student who believes he or she has been a victim of sexual harassment should, within six months of the incident, report the circumstances to the Internal Complaints Committee constituted by the University under Section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. ICC will investigate any conduct that amounts to sexual harassment as defined in the policy, even in absence of a complaint, and after seeking consent of the student, take remedial action where appropriate,” the guidelines stated.

“A complaint may be lodged with any member of the Internal Complaints Committee, or through existing channels such as Vice-Chancellor, wardens and teachers. If the complaint is through any such channel, the person to whom the complaint is made shall bring it to the notice of the Internal Complaints Committee within five working days of its receipt by her or him.”

“…the Internal Complaints Committee shall, on receiving a complaint from any such third person, contact the student reported to have been sexually harassed as soon as they take notice, and inform him /her of options under this policy and applicable legal norms.

“…even though a complaint should be lodged within six months, if there are extenuating circumstances which prevent a victim from filing a complaint within six months, such circumstances may be considered by the Internal Complaints Committee. If reasons are sufficiently strong and convincing, the limit for filing the complaint may be relaxed up to one year. Reasons for such extension should be recorded in writing,” stated the guidelines.

“The guidelines are in circulation. The faculty members accepted them. It will come into effect very soon,” confirmed NUJS spokesperson Ruchira Goswami. The student body has accepted the guidelines. “The draft is in circulation. We accepted it and were told it will be notified soon,” said Akshat Gupta, president of Students Juridical Association continued…

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