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Gender Justice First: Delhi HC Stands by GSCASH, JNU

Sabrangindia Staff 23 Sep 2017
In the fifth petition emerging out of the JNU teacher-students and the new administration, once again, the  Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration and University Grants Commission (UGC) in response to a petition challenging JNU Executive Council’s decision to dismantle Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) and its replacement with the formation of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The JNU Students Union in its fight to save GSCASH called for an 'Extraordinary University General Body Meeting' today, 22nd September, with its agenda being 'conduct GSCASH elections' and 'adopt rules and procedures of GSCASH 2015'.

JNU
Image: Facebook/Samir Asgor Ali

This was in response to a writ petition was filed in the Delhi High Court by Petitioners from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, three teachers and three students of the University, asking for quashing of orders superseding the Gender Sensitization Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) Rules and Procedures by the Internal Complaints Committee and the Registrar’s letter to put the GSCASH elections on hold. The team of lawyers representing the petitioners is headed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising and Harsh Parashar of Srivastava Naved Parashar Partners.

Earlier this week, at an Executive Council Committee meeting the University adopted the UGC (Prevention Prohibition & Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees & Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations 2015, and approved the formation of an Internal Complaints Committee to replace the existing Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment. Petitioners submit that JNU has its own revised Rules and Procedure of GSCASH which incorporated the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Petitioners have argued that it is not the mandate of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to deal with matters of discipline within Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which is governed by its own statute, rules and regulations on the issues of discipline and in particular “sexual harassment” on the campus.

The petition states that the under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, has no application on students and since GSCASH has its own rules and regulations in the matter of sexual harassment and came into force more than a decade before the passing of the Act, it should be applicable.

Petitioners have asked for a stay on the orders of supersession and for directions to preserve records of GSCASH from 1999 till date. They have also asked for the court to allow elections for student representatives to be held in accordance with regulations.

The court stated that the GSCASH office shall remain sealed until further hearing. The writ petition is filed by a section of University’s teachers and students. The learned judge, Chief Justice Geeta Mittal, concurred with Ms. Jaising, Counsel on behalf of the petitioners that the concerns for confidentiality had to be the paramount factor in this matter.

The petitioners have contended that UGC rules do not apply to JNU which takes decisions under the JNU Act. It is said that the petitioners are concerned as all the records of GSCASH from the year 1999 to present date are sensitive including the records and proceedings of 25 cases still pending with the committee (the inquiries in many cases are against faculty members and high-ranking officials). According to them, any modifications in GSCASH can only be carried out on the advice of GSCASH itself as per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The petition also elaborated the important features of GSCASH and its autonomy over ICC.

The next hearing of the interim stay application is on 31st October and the hearing of main petition is scheduled for 28 November, 2017.

Speaking to Newsclick, Students Union Vice President, Simone Zoya Khan said that their Union has rejected the formation of ICC replacing GSCASH. She said “in order to reclaim the autonomy of GSCASH, the union is demanding to conduct the GSCASH elections,’’ and while expressing relief over the High Court’s stay order on transfer of pending cases with GSCASH to ICC, she said “this Union has already begun its fight against the University’s decision of dismantling GSCASH.”

In a press statement , the JNUTA welcomed the court order and congratulated the Counsel for the petitioners Sr. Counsel Indira Jaising and her legal team. It recalled the exemplary responsibility evinced by the GSCASH which refused to be bowed down by intimidation tactics by the JNU Registrar to attempt to compel the GSCASH to hand over the keys to its office to him.

The petition may be read here.

 
 

Gender Justice First: Delhi HC Stands by GSCASH, JNU

In the fifth petition emerging out of the JNU teacher-students and the new administration, once again, the  Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration and University Grants Commission (UGC) in response to a petition challenging JNU Executive Council’s decision to dismantle Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) and its replacement with the formation of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The JNU Students Union in its fight to save GSCASH called for an 'Extraordinary University General Body Meeting' today, 22nd September, with its agenda being 'conduct GSCASH elections' and 'adopt rules and procedures of GSCASH 2015'.

JNU
Image: Facebook/Samir Asgor Ali

This was in response to a writ petition was filed in the Delhi High Court by Petitioners from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, three teachers and three students of the University, asking for quashing of orders superseding the Gender Sensitization Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) Rules and Procedures by the Internal Complaints Committee and the Registrar’s letter to put the GSCASH elections on hold. The team of lawyers representing the petitioners is headed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising and Harsh Parashar of Srivastava Naved Parashar Partners.

Earlier this week, at an Executive Council Committee meeting the University adopted the UGC (Prevention Prohibition & Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees & Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations 2015, and approved the formation of an Internal Complaints Committee to replace the existing Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment. Petitioners submit that JNU has its own revised Rules and Procedure of GSCASH which incorporated the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Petitioners have argued that it is not the mandate of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to deal with matters of discipline within Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which is governed by its own statute, rules and regulations on the issues of discipline and in particular “sexual harassment” on the campus.

The petition states that the under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, has no application on students and since GSCASH has its own rules and regulations in the matter of sexual harassment and came into force more than a decade before the passing of the Act, it should be applicable.

Petitioners have asked for a stay on the orders of supersession and for directions to preserve records of GSCASH from 1999 till date. They have also asked for the court to allow elections for student representatives to be held in accordance with regulations.

The court stated that the GSCASH office shall remain sealed until further hearing. The writ petition is filed by a section of University’s teachers and students. The learned judge, Chief Justice Geeta Mittal, concurred with Ms. Jaising, Counsel on behalf of the petitioners that the concerns for confidentiality had to be the paramount factor in this matter.

The petitioners have contended that UGC rules do not apply to JNU which takes decisions under the JNU Act. It is said that the petitioners are concerned as all the records of GSCASH from the year 1999 to present date are sensitive including the records and proceedings of 25 cases still pending with the committee (the inquiries in many cases are against faculty members and high-ranking officials). According to them, any modifications in GSCASH can only be carried out on the advice of GSCASH itself as per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The petition also elaborated the important features of GSCASH and its autonomy over ICC.

The next hearing of the interim stay application is on 31st October and the hearing of main petition is scheduled for 28 November, 2017.

Speaking to Newsclick, Students Union Vice President, Simone Zoya Khan said that their Union has rejected the formation of ICC replacing GSCASH. She said “in order to reclaim the autonomy of GSCASH, the union is demanding to conduct the GSCASH elections,’’ and while expressing relief over the High Court’s stay order on transfer of pending cases with GSCASH to ICC, she said “this Union has already begun its fight against the University’s decision of dismantling GSCASH.”

In a press statement , the JNUTA welcomed the court order and congratulated the Counsel for the petitioners Sr. Counsel Indira Jaising and her legal team. It recalled the exemplary responsibility evinced by the GSCASH which refused to be bowed down by intimidation tactics by the JNU Registrar to attempt to compel the GSCASH to hand over the keys to its office to him.

The petition may be read here.

 
 

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