Students defy JNU notice, vote in GSCASH elections

Key issue: According to the JNU Election Committee, 29.93% of 7,904 students voted in the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment elections on Wednesday.  

Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday held elections to the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) despite receiving a circular from the administration that the committee was non-existent and it had been replaced by an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

After the poll, the Election Committee said 29.93% of 7,904 voters participated.

The Registrar had said in a notice that there would be no parallel institution on sexual harassment on the same campus. The Registrar had alerted the JNU community not to participate in an election to a “non-existent” body and warned that action would be taken against those holding elections to an unrecognised body.

Vishakha guidelines

On the same day the administration called the election illegal, members of University Grants Commission (UGC)-appointed Saksham Task Force, formed to ensure gender sensitisation in universities, wrote an open letter to the JNU administration saying, “We are consequently at a loss to understand why a well-functioning body in JNU needed to be disbanded?...”

The task force added that ICC guidelines were meant for campuses where ICCs were non-existent or not Vishakha-compliant.

“They were never intended to replace or supersede committees like those of JNU’s GSCASH, which we had found to be fully Vishakha-compliant,” the letter said.

Matter in court

The JNU administration had replaced GSCASH saying it was following guidelines based on the Saksham task force report, that had drafted the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Education Institutions) Regulations, 2015.

Three students and three teachers have taken the matter to the Delhi High Court, which has directed the administration to maintain status quo on sealing of the GSCASH office and sought a reply on the plea. The students are against the ICC as members to the committee are nominated by the administration and only three student members are elected.

JNUTA supports polls

The JNU Teachers’ Association also came out in support of the GSCASH election saying the JNU administration’s contention that the GSCASH had been replaced by the ICC was an illegal one as the JNU EC did not follow correct procedure by superseding GSCASH Rules.

Writ petition

NUTA president Ayesha Kidwai said the fact of the matter is that the GSCASH versus ICC matter as a whole and the issue of the student representatives’ elections to GSCASH are subject of a writ petition in the High Court.

The JNUTA added, “If a protest by ballot can attract administrative ire to this extent, how can a complainant or respondent ever question the ICC or insist upon principles of natural justice from it?”

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 1:25:34 PM |

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