The Telegraph
Sunday , February 23 , 2014
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Harassment shield for NUJS interns

Calcutta, Feb. 22: National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) students should immediately inform the institution if they are sexually harassed during internship and the university will forward the complaint to the employer concerned for action against the accused.

If the employer does not act, the university will help the intern in a suitable way, vice-chancellor P. Ishwara Bhat promised.

Bhat announced during his convocation speech today that NUJS had finalised its guidelines on protection of interns from sexual harassment.

“The guidelines are ready and we are in the process of circulating them among the members of our academic council. We will post the guidelines on our website soon,” the vice-chancellor said later.

An NUJS intern who graduated last year had alleged that she was sexually harassed by retired Supreme Court judge Asok Kumar Ganguly during her internship under him.

Ganguly resigned as a guest lecturer of NUJS and as the chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission after the allegation.

Days after the allegation was made against Ganguly, another former NUJS student made a similar allegation against another retired Supreme Court judge.

After the complaints, NUJS had announced that it would draft rules that would require interns to report to the university if they faced problems during internship.

An NUJS official who was part of the team that drafted the new guidelines said today that “the university would take adequate measures to maintain the confidentiality of the complainants”.

After receiving a complaint, the university will examine it and, if it finds the allegation has merit, it will forward it to the employer irrespective of whether the internship was arranged by NUJS or the student was working on his or her own.

“If the employer does not react or delays taking action against the accused, the university will take appropriate measures to help the intern,” an official said.

Since students are usually apprehensive about complaining against harassment by seniors in the legal profession, NUJS will conduct counselling sessions to sensitise them about the steps they should take if they are harassed and encourage them to lodge complaints.

According to the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, it is mandatory for every establishment to have a sexual harassment cell for its employees.

NUJS will seek information from all the organisations where its students are sent for internship on the steps they have taken to ensure that interns are not sexually harassed. “We will appeal to every organisation, including NGOs, law firms, corporate houses and courts, where our students go for internship to take appropriate measures to prevent harassment,” the official said.