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Possibly unprecedented NCW report on an NLU: RGNUL admin must protect students’ rights, be more proactive, recommends inquiry

As far as we’re aware, this is the first report by the NCW on a national law school

Wise and fundamental closing words of the NCW report on RGNUL
Wise and fundamental closing words of the NCW report on RGNUL

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has produced a report into RGNUL Patiala, following a fact-finding mission prompted by complaints made by students during their protests against the administration, urging the administration to fix a number of deficiencies.

The six-page NCW report has recorded a long list of grievances by students, in-part shared by students with the three-person fact finding team during their campus visit on 20 March 2019 (consisting of committee chairperson Chandramukhi Devi, and NCW member Soso Shazia and committee member advocate Nisha Rishi).

The NCW recommended that the “administration needs to be more sensitive on gender issue and must ensure gender equality”, adding that rules for “boys and girls should be same at all levels”.

It chastised the university to ensure that its internal complaints committee for sexual harassment complaints should be properly constituted and communicated to students, and to maintain “one separate 10-member grievance cell”.

The NCW also recommended that all written records should be maintained of disciplinary actions and complaints, for the university to safeguard the right of privacy of students, hold awareness seminars on sexual harassment, and maintain anonymous sexual harassment complaint boxes.

It advised the vice chancellor, Prof Paramjit Jaswal to “hold open interaction programme with the University students to avoid any chaos/protest in future”, and to keep the NCW posted about inquiries “pending against the faculty members”.

We have reached out to Jaswal for comment.

One student commented anonymously:

The students thank the Hon’ble National Commission for Women for their report. This was something that should have been done long back but with the amount of arbitrary pressure and power the administation imposes of students made it an impossible exercise till we all decided we have had enough of his tyranny.

The enquiry against S.P. Singh has been on and students have engaged legal representation to handle the enquiry. Lawyers Arjun Sheoran, Neha Sonawane, Aditi Sheoran and Amrita Garg from Vaakya Legal, a law firm in Chandigarh, are representing the students. The students have been told to produce witnesses in front of Smt. Manjot Kaur, Enquiry Officer in the S.P. Singh case but students are very scared of appearing in front of him fearing that once he knows the identity of the students, the administration will ensure that revenge is taken. Even now, there are threats from faculty members, making jokes about failing us in the examinations, calls to parents etc.

As stated in our complaint, we hold the authorities morally liable since the conduct of all persons mentioned in the NCW complaint was an open secret on the entire campus.

The NCW report (full copy below) noted some of the following issues:

  • No Redressal Mechanism: Students were not aware of any such mechanism and authorities were never available to resolve the issues.
  • Lack of Awareness for ICC: The students as well as teachers were not aware of the legal remedies available in terms of any complaint relating to sexual harassment at work place.
  • No Interaction Programme University Administration does not hold any student-teacher interaction programme where students could share their problems.
  • Impulsive Behaviour of the Faculty It could be noticed that [certain professors] have been rude to students and have passed anonymous marks against students.
  • Right to Privacy Is Infringed: The taking away of the mobile phone of the student and accessing the gallery is surely an infringement of right to privacy.

The students had sent a complaint on 19 March 2019, towards the tail-end of their protests that ultimately led to the administration acceding to student demands for an independent inquiry into administrative officer Capt SP Singh (currently ongoing, despite some student misgivings),

NCW Report of RGNUL (PDF)

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