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YOUR RIGHTS AS A SURVIVOR
Individuals have the right to be protected from sexual harassment/assault. Any incident of sexual harassment/assault results in the violation of the survivor’s fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
For protecting this right for employers and employees, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“PoSH Act”) provides recourse and redressal to woman employees.
After this, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, through the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, (“UGC Regulations”) laid down a framework to prevent sexual harassment amongst students in Universities, These guidelines extend the right under PoSH act to file a complaint against an employer/employee to students. As per these guidelines, students may file complaints as against another student.
It is mandatory for the universities/colleges/institutes registered with the University Grants Commission (“UGC”) to comply with this UGC regulation.
The PoSH Act and other Governing Body Regulations along with judicial precedents have consistently held that there MUST be an Internal Committee [“IC”] in every institution with more than 10 employees.
As per the PoSH Act and the UGC Regulations, the IC must:
Consider all complaints
Have one-half of women members with the presiding officer being a woman.
Train and sensitise members
Have an empathetic attitude towards the survivor
Must provide a report with detailed reasoning and recommendations
Ensure that there is protection from retaliation, counselling or other enabling support that the survivor may need
If your college falls under the UGC Regulation, inter alia, you are entitled to a gender-neutral policy that mandates student members on the IC (this is in variation to the PoSH Act since the PoSH Act is not gender-neutral), workshops and sensitization programmes conducted and a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment.
If your University/college/institute has not constituted an IC, you can write to the governing body regarding the same.
Click here for a sample complaint to the UGC:
Tip: Communicate via email to your college, so that if there is inaction, you can use the same as proof to complain to the statutory governing body.
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