Jawaharlal Nehru University’s executive council has decided to oust its Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) and bring in Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in its place. The council also announced that the Vice-Chancellor will nominate six of its nine members to join the new panel.

“Based on the recommendations of the S C Garkoti Committee, the 269th executive council meeting adopted the UGC Regulations, 2015, and approved the formation of ICC with immediate effect. The ICC will henceforth replace GSCASH,” said the administration as The Hindu reports.

JNU Chief Proctor Vibha Tandon is the committee’s chairperson.

The administration has declared student’s elections for the three remaining members. It has also nominated a representative of NGO Sampurna. It is run by BJP leader Vijender Gupta’s wife who was embroiled in a case of irregularities in 2012.

“What if a woman wants to report against a professor? Now with administration’s interference in the committee, one would have to think twice before filing a complaint. Complainant would have to think if the professor is on good terms with the VC or not. How many sane women would go to ICC when we see that the VC is nominating most of the members?”- Geeta Kumari, JNUSU President  

JNU’s students’ election committee will hold elections on September 22.

The earlier committee had four elected faculty members. It also had an elected staff member.

Both Students’ and teachers’ unions of the esteemed university are discouraging this step. They feel that GSCASH already complied with UGC-mandated rules of forming the ICC. And that there was no need to abolish the 18-year-old panel.

JNU Students’ Union president Geeta Kumari talked to SheThePeople.TV and said, “JNU administration has taken a very autocratic decision by replacing the GSCASH with ICC. They did not consult anyone on the campus and they are forcing it down upon us.”

“And already when a body like GSCASH is working in our campus then why do we need something like ICC which is a nominative body?” questions Kumari, adding that there was no need to scrap GSCASH.

She said that they had actually increased the number of members of GSCASH to 15 when they amended the rules according to the Sexual Harassment Act. “It was very hard to maintain the body with sensitization programmes happening and dealing with enquiries etc. But now there are only nine members in the ICC.”

The JNUSU president also alleged that one of the members of the EC is guilty of sexual harassment himself. The case dates to the time when he was a professor in Delhi University. Kumari was speaking of Professor Bidyut Chakraborty.

In 2007, officer on Special Duty at DU’s Gandhi Bhawan, Anamika Sharma had accused Chakraborty of sexual harassment. He was then the Head of Department of Political Science. Chakraborty had taken over as honorary Director of Gandhi Bhawan in 2006, The Hindu reported.

The JNUSU president also alleged that one of the members of the EC is guilty of sexual harassment himself when he was a professor in Delhi University. Kumari was speaking of Professor Bidyut Chakraborty

Talking about women’s safety in the campus, she said, “Women actually felt safer because they could approach GSCASH for help. What if a woman wants to report against a professor? Now, with administration’s interference in the committee, one would have to think twice before filing a complaint. Complainant would have to think if the professor is on good terms with the VC or not. How many sane women would go to ICC when we see that the VC is nominating most of the members?”

A research Scholar of JNU, Manisha Chachra, told SheThePeople.TV, “It must be seen in background of what is happening at JNU and other universities. The change in appointments from election to nomination of new members is narrowing down the principles of gender justice. But it is also a manifestation of tyrannical tendencies of the VC.”

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“This would not trample the autonomous position given to the committee but further depoliticize the concerns of gender equality. The faculty and students have resolved to come together to resist the move. It is a crucial moment to come up with innovative methods to register dissent and protest,” Chachra added.

Picture credit- Deccan Chronicle

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