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JGLS admin welcomes 20-year jail conviction of students for rape of fellow student but bemoans collective trauma

JGLS urges for trust in internal redressal systems after sexual offenders within college get 20 year jail terms
JGLS urges for trust in internal redressal systems after sexual offenders within college get 20 year jail terms

JGLS Sonepat students were sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping a fellow student, reported The Tribune and Times of India several days ago.

JGLS had emailed all students after this conviction, urging them to “create an environment where every student has the courage to approach various redressal mechanisms and trust them fully”.

Students Hardik Sikri and Karan Chhabra were given 20 years, and a third student Vikas Garg was sent to prison for seven years after Sonepat additional district and sessions judge Sunita Grover found them guilty of blackmailing and gang raping a JGLS student over a period of two years.

The victim filed a complaint in April 2015 alleging that since August 2013 one student had blackmailed her into having sexual intercourse with him and that he would leak nude photographs of her if she complained to the authorities.

One month after the complaint to the JGLS sexual harassment cell and the Haryana police, the victim, who was then a second-year student, sought transfer of the investigation from the local police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the ground that the local police investigation was not up to the mark. Senior advocate Indira Jaising had appeared before the Supreme Court for the victim on this plea.

We understand that the Supreme Court had sent the case back to the sessions court, following this plea.

Admin tells students it feels sorry about ‘inappropriate’ conduct

JGLS’ registrar YSR Murthy emailed all students of the law school two days ago (29 May), informing them of the conviction and giving the following statement:

We feel very sad for the victim as well as those students who have been convicted. We have been interacting with their parents from time to time. You cannot gauge their trauma. As many productive years of these students will be lost in prison, we need to draw an important lesson from this incident and reflect on how we can promote a safe environment free of any sexual abuse or harassment. Blackmailing and sharing of private pictures in violation of the laws of the land can have no place in a civilized educational setting such as ours. We need to promote gender sensitivity, awareness and safety on campus.

While we keep circulating the student Code of Conduct, Do’s and Don’ts from time to time, it is very important for each student to understand appropriate and inappropriate conduct and also the limits to one’s own behavior to prevent such instances from happening again.

Let us work together to ensure that no person becomes victimized in this manner and that any potential perpetrator is stopped in their tracks. Let us create an environment, where every student has the courage to approach various redressal mechanisms and trust them fully.

We make choices all the time. Let us choose actions which will take us closer to our academic or career goals and not do anything which will hamper our progress.

Commenting on Murthy’s statement in an email to us, one JGLS student wrote to us, saying:

The email which we received today had the subject as ‘appropriate and inappropriate conduct’ and mentioned about the recent conviction of the students and nowhere they acknowledge that the student was raped and instead attached newspaper links.

But, what’s more shocking is that the Registrar in this email says that students should follow the dos and dont’s mentioned in the student code of conduct and understand appropriate and inappropriate conduct and further says ‘We make choices all the time. Let us choose actions which will take us closer to our academic or career goals and not do anything which will hamper our progress.’ I find it very problematic and grotesque because instead of criticizing rape, it is actually reduced to inappropriate conduct and a choice which we students should not make and instead focus on our studies.

Official comment

We messaged JGLS vice chancellor Prof C Raj Kumar for comment on policies and safety measures implemented at JGLS since the incident, who referred us to Murthy.

Murthy added in an emailed statement: “The O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) welcomes the decision of the District Sessions Court, Sonipat convicting three of our students in a rape case. We strongly condemn this heinous act and recognise that the ends of justice have been met. We have fully supported the investigation of this case and also extended emotional and psychological support to the victim and her family.

“The supporting environment created by JGU has enabled her to complete her studies and pursue the career trajectory of her choice. We follow a zero tolerance policy for such acts and all institutional mechanisms are in place. The University is committed to further strengthening its efforts to create a safe and gender sensitive environment for its staff and students,” he added in the statement.

Murthy told us that while in general JGLS has a sexual harassment committee and student disciplinary committee “since the very beginning”, as additional support to the victim in this case the law school created alternate assessment systems, and the provision of attending lectures and writing exams remotely through Skype and “safe venues”.

The college also gave her medical leave and relaxed attendance rules for her, he said.

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