Panjab University without an Internal Complaints Committee

Chahat Rana
Panjab University, Complaints Committee, Sexual Harassment, chandigarh news, indian express news

According to the Sexual harassment of Women in the Workplace Act, 2013, each member of the committee has to be nominated and approved by the employer. (File photo)

In direct violation of the Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013, Panjab University (PU) is without a Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) after an agenda to ratify the extension of the current committee was withdrawn by the Vice Chancellor right before the syndicate meeting began on Sunday morning.

The current committee’s term had expired in September last year, but the Vice Chancellor, professor Raj Kumar, had extended the committee’s tenure until ‘further notice’, in anticipation of the syndicate’s approval of his decision.

“Since the agenda to extend PU CASH was not ratified today and withdrawn even before proceedings began, it means there is no lawfully functioning CASH body as of today,” claimed a member of the Syndicate on the condition of anonymity, on Sunday.

The constitution of the current CASH committee of the university has already been marred with controversy. Not only had its tenure been extended until further notice, VC Kumar had also nominated two new members to the committee without seeking the approval of the Syndicate and the Senate.

“The addition of two new members meant that the committee which had been slated for extension was not the same as the current committee, but actually a new committee. This could not have been ratified by the syndicate anyway, because its constitution could not be altered without seeking the syndicate and senate’s approval,” added the syndicate member.

According to the Sexual harassment of Women in the Workplace Act, 2013, each member of the committee has to be nominated and approved by the employer. In the case of the university, the ultimate administrative authority and ‘employer’ is represented by the senate.

Hence, the two new members chosen to replace retired members- professor Yojana Rawat from University School of Open Learning (USOL) and Inder Mohan, Special officer to the VC, had not been lawfully added to the committee.

There has been no discussion or contemplation on the creation of a new CASH committee in lieu of the expiration of the current committee’s tenure.

Hence, as of Sunday, the university has no Internal Complaint’s Committee, and is in direct violation of the Sexual Harassment of Women in Workplace Act of 2013, which mandates an Internal Complaints Committee for all organisations in India. Professor Raj Kumar was contacted for his comment, but he did not respond.

The syndicate also decided to pass a decision to standardise concessions on “Users and Maintenance charges” levied as part of fees on students across various course structures. Earlier each student received varied amounts of concession on laboratory charges, but after laboratory charges got subsumed under “users and maintenance charges”, each student will have to pay tuition fees along with 50 per cent of “Users and Maintenance charges” from the next session onwards.

As for decisions pertaining to the pension policy, the body decided to send documents pertaining to the policy for legal vetting before making their decision.

The body was set to decide whether employees will get another chance to opt for the old pension policy, wherein they receive pension derived from their provident fund.