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Clarified: NLSIU sex harass committee took suo motu action over ‘oranges’, asks to remove FB post • Matter now with admin til March

OrangesOranges

Action is awaited from NLSIU Bangalore's administration on the complaint of its internal sexual harassment probe body (SHIC) against the image shared on WhatsApp that allegedly mocked one of its earlier case investigations, as we had yesterday reported.

Contrary to an earlier report in the Bangalore Mirror and by us implying that formal investigations were ongoing, a full inquiry by the SHIC has not yet been initiated.

There had been two sexual harassment complaints at the law school in December 2016. After over one year of probes, the SHIC convicted and rusticated the perpetrator in one complaint, which we had reported last year, but cleared charges against the two alleged perpetrators in the second complaint.

But a picture of oranges, allegedly offensively referencing the second complaint, circulated on WhatsApp where it was allegedly defended by a former accused.

This has now caused the SHIC to act on its own without a formal complaint.

The faculty member heading up the SHIC, Prof Yashumati Ghosh, told us today that it was an indication of the “lacking gender sensitivity in a certain section of male students” on the NLSIU campus, that they had allegedly shared and defended a picture mocking an incident that had kicked off sexual harassment investigations in the first place.

Ghosh said that with a view to ensuring greater gender sensitivity on campus and a safer environment the SHIC had of its own accord reported the circulated picture to the NLSIU administration, despite there having been no formal complaint made to the body by anyone.

She said that a decision from the administration on the SHIC's report was not likely before March 2018 as the law school was busy with exams until tomorrow, after which the students have a short vacation.

The Facebook post

The SHIC had also ordered the female student who had posted about the picture on Facebook, slamming the alleged perpetrators, to remove her post.

The student had named the alleged perpetrators in her post which called them out on their “brazen shamelessness”.

Ghosh told us that through that post the student had violated not just NLSIU's sexual harassment law but also “the general law of the country” by naming individuals in reference to charges they had been cleared of.

Ghosh also clarified today that its recommendations to the vice chancellor about the WhatsApp incident do not in any way re-open the original investigation from December 2016, which has already been closed on 17 January 2018, and that the picture of the alleged perpetrator had been shared by a different student who had not been named as a perpetrator in the dismissed December 2016 complaint.

She said that any fresh evidence against either of the cleared perpetrators in the December 2016 incident or against any other individuals would have to be filed under a freshly registered complaint.

Ghosh said that the SHIC cleared the alleged perpetrators in the December 2016 case of charges as despite the accused having allegedly confessed when confronted by a few students, they later withdrew that purported confession, which did not amount to admissible evidence under a formal investigation by the SHIC.

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