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GNLU authorities want to cover up sexual harassment case: Fact Finding committee; Gujarat HC asks General Council to look into report [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam Biju      22 March, 2024 12:32 PM      0 Comments
GNLU authorities want to cover up sexual harassment case: Fact Finding committee; Gujarat HC asks General Council to look into report

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has ordered the General Council of the Gandhinagar National Law University (GNLU) to look into the report of the fact finding committee which revealed lapses pertaining to the performance of functions and the administration of the University. 

The Court was considering a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by the High Court after allegations of rape of one student and harassment of another queer student at GNLU were reported by Ahmedabad Mirror, last year. 

The report was submitted by the committee headed by former High Court judge Justice Harsha Devani, which had been constituted to look into allegations of sexual harassment and homophobia at GNLU. The committee was appointed by GNLU after Court’s intervention. 

After going through the committee’s report, a Bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee opined that various issues highlighted in the report needed the GC’s immediate attention. It was revealed that the GNLU authorities wanted to cover up the sexual harassment case and other issues “which are likely to bring disrepute to the institution”. Further, it was told that the Institution’s authorities are more concerned about the reputation of the GNLU rather than plight of the victim.

“There are other various issues, which have been noted and highlighted by the Committee, which are of grave concern and, in our considered opinion, need immediate attention of the Apex body of the University. The Committee has given findings inter alia that the GNLU authorities want to cover up such issues, which are likely to bring disrepute to the institution and that they are more concerned about the reputation of the GNLU rather than plight of the victim.”

The report further stated that the students were highly critical of the role played by the Faculty, Member of the Internal Complaint Committee/ Internal Fact-Finding Committees and the Female Warden. The other shocking revelation was that only 8.8% of the students were aware of the existing Internal Complaint Committee and the procedure to be followed for approaching the Internal Complaint Committee. “Only 26.5% of the students were aware of the Students Welfare and Grievances Redressal Committee, which implied that such Committees have not conducted wide awareness/sensitization programmes or are mostly only on paper”, the court highlighted, pointing to the Committee’s findings. 

In an earlier hearing, the Bench had expressed shock over the findings of the committee, which revealed that incidents of rape, molestation, favouritism, homophobia, lack of information to students about the ICC, were prevalent at GNLU. The Bench had then slammed the GNLU administration. In its recent order, the Bench affirmed its earlier view. 

“Taking note of the State of affairs brought by the Committee in its report submitted before us, we find that the manner in which the Registrar (In-charge) of the University has responded in his affidavit dated 09.10.2023, the contents of which have been noted hereinabove, affirms our view that there was an overt anxious effort to dilute the whole issue by making summary inquiries at the ends of the Registrar (In-charge). The findings of the Committee about the lack of empathy by the administration of the University and effort made by the administration to cover up the whole issue affirmed our prima facie belief expressed in our order dated 19.09.2023 extracted hereinabove. The role of the University authorities in the entire incident is required to be looked into, firmly.”

This being the case, the Court asked the General Council to convene a meeting at the earliest to look into the Committee’s findings and do the needful. “The intimation with regard to the date fixed for convening the meeting of the General Council shall be given to the Registrar General, High Court of Gujarat by Ms. Dharmistha Raval learned counsel appearing for the GNLU”, the court further ordered. 

Advocate Krina Calla appeared as Amicus Curiae. Assistant Government Pleader Krutik Parikh represented the State. Senior Advocate Kamal Trivedi along with Advocate Dharmishta Raval appeared for GNLU.

Read Order



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