Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment

Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment
Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment

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 )

South Africa against trial of sitting leaders

South African President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday that sitting African heads of state should not stand trial.

“What we are guarding against is the situation where countries that had moved to a semblance of stability suddenly regress due to a vacuum that would be created when leaders are taken away to stand trial,” Xinhua quoted Zuma as saying in parliament.

The president was answering a question about the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s attempt to try certain African leaders.

The ICC is seeking to bring to trial Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for allegedly instigating violence during the country’s 2007 general election in which more than 1,000 people died.

Some African countries have threatened to pull out from the ICC, accusing the tribunal of unfairly targeting Africans, including Kenyatta and Ruto.

The African Union (AU) has asked the UN Security Council to urge the ICC to defer the case against Kenyatta and Ruto until they finish their terms.

The AU, Zuma said, is committed to equality before the law and to fighting impunity, hence the process of expanding the mandate of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which would help find African solutions to African problems.

“The recommendation that sitting heads of state should not stand trial in a manner that would disrupt governance in their countries will not necessarily result in heads of state extending their terms of office,” Zuma said.

The AU has its own instruments for promoting the adherence to democratic principles, such as the Charter on Good Democracy, Elections and Governance and the peer review mechanisms, according to Zuma.

African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the Rome Statute, the court’s founding treaty, which took effect July 1, 2002.

(Source: IANS)

Make this World Cup the last with leather balls: PETA

 With cricket being the flavour of the season, a noted animal rights body is now batting against the exploitation of animals in the ‘gentleman’s game’.

Urging for the top cricketing body to switch from using real leather balls to synthetic balls, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has written to Sharad Pawar, president of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Poorva Joshipura, chief functionary, Peta says, “As the so-called ‘Gentleman’s game,’ cricket should be gentle on animals and the environment by making the switch to synthetic balls.”

She writes in her letter, “You are in a unique position to create a change that would alleviate massive suffering and destruction. Won’t you please step up to bat for animals and the environment by using your influence to ban leather balls and replace them with synthetic balls instead?”

Animal rights activists say although millions of fans across the globe are currently enjoying the World Cup, cricket is anything but fun for the animals whose skins are used to make balls for the sport, and leather production wreaks havoc on the environment.

Synthetic-leather balls can be more durable and water repellent than their leather counterparts, and sportspersons have said to have reported such balls to better play. Given the superiority of composite leather balls, other sports have already switched over to their use.

In the US, both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) play with synthetic-leather basketballs. Activists point out that many animals who are slaughtered for their skin endure extreme crowding and deprivation; castration, branding, tail-docking and dehorning without being given any pain relief; and cruel transport and slaughter.

The process of obtaining leather from animal skins has been reported to be cruel and inhuman. “The animals are marched to slaughter for days without food or water. When the animals collapse from exhaustion, workers often smear the animals’ eyes with chilli peppers and tobacco and break their tails in an effort to keep them moving,” says Joshpuria.

“At abattoirs in India, animals are often skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious. What’s more, turning animal skins into leather requires massive amounts of toxic chemicals, and runoff from leather tanneries poisons rivers and streams,” she adds.

A report by the Central Pollution Control Board found that Vellore, Tamil Nadu, which has about 6,000 tanneries is alarmingly polluted. Tannery workers are exposed to chemicals that have been linked to cancer, respiratory infections and other illnesses.

Studies of leather-tannery workers in Sweden and Italy found cancer risks between 20 and 50 per cent above expected levels.