Leaflet, 13.11.08

VC Violating Ordinance XV-D

The DTF takes serious note of the VC’s failure to place before the EC the reports of various inquiry committees. Many reports are lying with him for months and even in the past he has held back some reports for over ten months. Holding back reports has become a tool of favour or harassment by the University Administration.

Many reports are of inquiries conducted under Ordinance XV-D on sexual harassment which stipulates time-bound inquiry within one month and action on receipt of the report. Other inquiry reports are also pending action such as one on a complaint of mental harassment of a woman research scholar.

It is also the responsibility of the Vice Chancellor to ensure that all committees stipulated under Ordinance XV-D are constituted. Unfortunately, instead of helping to implement the relatively young Ordinance, he is himself violating its provisions. The Vice Chancellor has been constituting ad hoc committees, the legalities of which are questionable. The case of the complaint by a research scholar against Professors in the Department of Hindi is one such example.

Institutional mechanisms have been introduced because sexual harassment is a reality which is made worse by power relations, existing gender inequality and a value system that condemns the victim more than the perpetrator. While every complaint of sexual harassment may not be genuine, we would be completely blind towards reality to believe that sexual harassment is rare.

The need therefore is for a mechanism that is autonomous from the administration and existing structures of power hierarchy, a mechanism that routinely examines each complaint in a time bound manner giving the right to complainant and accused to state their positions and respond to issues raised by the other side. Action on inquiry reports also needs to be taken in a routine and time bound manner.

The routine and time bound character is a crucial requirement for doing away with the need for a complainant to solicit support from either the administration or groups of teachers, students or karmacharis or their unions/associations. In fact, unions and groups should limit their interventions to questioning non-implementation of rules and to suggestions for reformulating rules. Any other intervention that prejudices the inquiry or interferes with it undermines the very mechanism.

The DTF reiterates the demands raised by Rajib Ray, Abha Dev Habib, Bhupinder Chaudhury, Sanjeev Kumar and Najma Rehmani in their letter to the Vice Chancellor on 24 October 2008:

1. Timely constitution of the College Complaints Committees (CCC), University Unit Complaints Committees (UUCC), Central Pool Complaints Committee (CPCC) and Apex Complaints Committee (ACC) in accordance with the procedure laid down in Ordinance XV-D.

2. Strict adherence to the stipulations that complaints received must be forwarded to the relevant Committee without delay and that the committees are to complete the process of inquiry within a month.

3. Routine acceptance of the recommendation by the inquiry committee for the suspension of the accused so that there is no undue interference. Such a suspension is neither a pre-judgment nor a punishment. It is a valid and accepted procedure in the interest of justice. Ordinance XV-D also provides for safeguards for the person placed under suspension by making the inquiry time-bound.

4. The experiences of various inquiry committees should be shared to work out a broader agreement on procedures to be followed during inquiry. The Apex Complaints Committee has initiated such an interaction.

5. Copies of the reports and the recommendations of the Committees should be given to the complainant and the accused on completion of the inquiry after leaving out such details as stipulated in the handbook.

6. Reports must be placed before the Executive Council / Governing Body for action in a time bound manner. The practice of placing a summary instead of the report should be stopped since it involves rewriting.

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