The Delhi High Court (File Photo)
The Delhi High Court pulled up Jawaharlal Nehru University over its handling of an alleged sexual harassment case, filed by a research scholar against two professors, and has ordered that she be allowed to re-register into the PhD programme and be provided hostel facilities.
On January 9, 2018, the woman filed a complaint before the JNU’s internal complaints committee (ICC), alleging sexual harassment by two professors. After an enquiry, on August 2, the ICC submitted its report and recommended that her request for re-registration be considered.
As there was no response on her appeal, the woman, through her counsel Dibyanshu Pandey, moved the HC in August 2019, alleging that she was being further victimised by the varsity. She alleged that despite the ICC recommending that a competent authority reconsider her application for the PhD programme, the authority was neither accepting nor rejecting the same.
The ICC had found both professors guilty, yet exonerated them citing administrative lapses, she alleged. It, however, levied a fine of Rs 5,000 on both professors, and recommended that both be censured. When the matter came up for hearing before Justice Pratibha M Singh, the JNU counsel, on December 19 last year, apprised the court that the woman’s appeal had been disposed of on September 18, 2018.
The court ordered, “In light of the fact that JNU has not considered the matter afresh on merits, that considerable time is elapsing in the administrative processing, and the manner in which the re-registration is being examined being unsatisfactory, the recommendation of the ICC being in favour of the petitioner, it is directed that the petitioner be given re-registration into the PhD programme, and hostel facilities be provided to her...”
After perusing the file related to the woman’s case, the court noted that “there was no clarity on the re-registration (of the student)... The noting of the chairman of ICC was not even communicated to the petitioner ...” It also observed that the student was not given any hearing by the appeals committee.
“The appeal shall be heard afresh by the committee; if the petitioner requests for legal assistance or services of a defence assistant, the same shall be... granted by the committee... “The appeal shall be decided within 30 days after hearing the petitioner,” it added.