New Delhi, Sept. 19: Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University today moved Delhi High Court against the executive council's decision to replace its gender sensitisation committee on sexual harassment with an internal complaints committee.
The writ petition, filed through senior advocates Indira Jaising and Harsh Parashar, has made both the JNU and the University Grants Commission parties to the case.
"The UGC Act does not apply to JNU, which is an autonomous institution that takes its own decisions under the JNU Act. The Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) is better and more democratic than the ICC. Under Clause X (4) (of the GSCASH Regulations), any amendments to GSCASH can be made only if suggested by the GSCASH itself. In this case, the GSCASH was not consulted," Jaising told The Telegraph.
JNU registrar Pramod Kumar had last week asked the unions of students, teachers, officials and other non-teaching staff to put on hold Friday's polls to the GSCASH - which has been a model for many universities in India and Bangladesh - in the wake of the EC's decision to adopt the UGC's 2015 regulations on sexual harassment to form the Internal Complaints Committee.
The decision to eventually replace the GSCASH with the ICC yesterday came at a time the "highest authorities" of the university were under the outgoing watchdog's scanner.
Currently, the GSCASH office bears a lock each of the GSCASH and the ICC, and registrar Kumar issued a circular today effectively transferring all cases to the ICC.
The GSCASH, however, is going ahead with the polls for electing four student representatives on Friday.
"We will be holding a general body meeting of all students within the next two days and request for a mandate to the GSCASH students election committee to conduct the polls on Friday. It is illegal to violate the privacy of the complainants by imposing the ICC on JNU," JNU students union president Geeta Kumari, a former GSCASH representative, said.
The 23-member GSCASH - an autonomous body - has 10 elected representatives from among students, teachers, officers and other non-teaching staff. Only the elected members conduct probes.
The nine-member ICC only calls for three elected students, the rest being nominated by the vice-chancellor - a change that teachers and students have protested.