On Tuesday (28th November) a Delhi High Court bench comprising of Justice Sanjeev Khanna and Justice Pratibha M. Singh heard the petition filed by teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University seeking quashing of Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH).
The students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University had approached the High Court of Delhi seeking quashing of their Executive Council decision dated 18.09.2017 by which the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) has been replaced with immediate effect with an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as per the University Grants Commission's (UGC) Regulations on sexual harassment, 2015.
In this matter, UGC has been given time till 5 December to file their reply. The judges asked the counsel for UGC whether other colleges have been asked to constitute new committees. The counsel stated that UGC had sent communications to all colleges in furtherance of the new regulation. It was pointed out by the counsel for petitioners that several colleges had retained the GSCASH procedure in effect, and had merely renamed their respective committees.
The court asked if there had been any resolution of the matter in the meeting. This was answered in the negative. Thereafter, the court remarked that the administration could have chosen to nominate the elected members and could have created a reconciliatory space and resolved the issue with the Petitioner. At that stage the Counsel for JNU (ASG) clearly stated that they were not willing to make reconciliatory efforts for an amicable resolution of the issue.
The Bench said that status quo does not help either side. The judges stated that the Petitioners were harming their own case by opposing the opening of the GSCASH room.
The judges clarified that the cases disposed of by the GSCASH and the fresh cases being filed with the ICC were not of urgent importance. They were more concerned about the pending cases and sought quick resolution thereof. The court was inclined to transfer these cases to the ICC.
In that regard, it was pointed out by the Counsel for Petitioners, represented by Advocate Harsh Parashar, Advocate Radhika Saxena, Advocate Suroor Mander and Advocate Aman Pandey that there could be certain people against whom cases are still pending who could be senior members of the administration and hence their cases should not be heard by the ICC.
The court therefore ordered the details of all the pending cases (including names of complainants, respondents and witnesses) to be prepared by GSCASH and the ICC and given to the court in a sealed envelope. The court ordered the room to be resealed after the details have been procured.
The court was dismissive of the argument made by the counsel for JNU that there is no space for ICC to operate. The court inquired whether there was a relaxation provision in the Regulations and sought a clarification on the next date.
It was clarified by the Bench that this order does not express any prima facie view on the merits of the case.
The next date of hearing in this matter is set for 19 December, 2017