The Delhi High Court today formed a temporary Internal Complaint Committee (TICC) in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to proceed with 31 pending complaints of sexual harassment.
The court’s direction came on a plea filed by a group of teachers and students of JNU opposing the office order disbanding the Gender Sensitisation Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) committee and replacing it by an ICC.
They also opposed a registrar’s circular putting on hold the election of students’ representatives to the dissolved body.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Pratibha Singh said the three-member TICC will consist of one member each of the present ICC and erstwhile GSCASH and the third member would be nominated by them from an NGO or an association committed to the cause of women.
While nominating the third member, a list of NGOs and associations, prepared by the GSCASH or JNU administration, would be taken into consideration, the bench said.
It added that the directions were passed to ensure there is no tampering of records and breach of confidentiality.
The bench listed the matter for February 22, next year for final hearing and disposal of the petition challenging the varsity administration’s decision on disbanding the GSCASH and forming the ICC instead.
During the hearing, advocate Ginny J Rautray, appearing for JNU, handed over to the bench the list of pending matters by suppressing the names of victims, accused and witnesses and said there are 31 pending complaints which were filed between January 5 last year to July 27 this year.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioner teachers and students, argued that the composition of ICC is in dispute and the complainants have confidence in GSCASH and not in ICC.
She claimed that the complainants have written to GSCASH members that they do not wish to pursue the complaints if this panel does not continue.
To this, the bench said the complainants do not have a choice in the matter and a complainant has the right to seek recusal of a member of the committee but with a valid reason.
It said these 31 cases should not be stalled as the issue relating to constitutional validity of the concerned UGC regulations is pending consideration.
The bench modified the stay order regarding the pending cases and formed the three-member temporary ICC to deal with these 31 matters.
It said that the records of these pending cases be made available to the temporary ICC and in case the two members of TICC do not reach any consensus in nominating the third member, they shall approach the court.
The court had earlier asked the JNU to maintain status quo on the sealing of the office of GSCASH committee which was superseded by the ICC.
The JNU administration had in its 269th Executive Council meeting held on September 18 ordered the dissolution of the independent body GSCASH.
As an interim relief, the petitioners had sought a stay on the operation of the order to disband GSCASH and a direction to JNU to preserve all records of GSCASH from 1999 till date in consultation with GSCASH.
The petition was filed by three teachers and three students Prof Madhu Sahni, Prof Rajat Dutta, Prof Hemant Adlakha, Ritika Kar, Rituraj Sharma and Sonam Goyal.
( Source – PTI )