NLSIU students amend RCC rules to combat sexual harassmentSeptember 19 2017
Sending a strong message against sexual harassment both on and off campus, students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore recently made a significant amendment to the rules governing the Recruitment Co-ordination Committee (RCC), Batch of 2019.
The new amendment allows the RCC to disclose information regarding conviction of internship/placement candidates under the NLSIU Code to Combat Sexual Harassment (SHARIC code) to prospective firms.
The amendment, proposed by five RCC members - Chandni Ochani, Chhavi Singhal, Jashanjot Kaur, Megha Mehta and Ritika Bansal - was passed with a two-thirds majority, following student discussion as well as anonymous feedback.
Several concerns were taken into consideration before the same was passed, notably those oriented towards the idea of an additional penalty being imposed apart from that imposed by the inquiry committee under the SHARIC code. In the same vein, concerns were raised as to whether such an additional penalty would be viewed as a mitigating factor when it came to punishment being meted out by the inquiry committee.
Addressing these objections, it was emphasised that the RCC being an autonomous body governing internship and placement coordination, was well within its jurisdiction to introduce the amendment. Further, the amendment does not entail an additional penalty but a consequence owing to a criminal offence being on record.
On this principle, such disclosure of information is permissible. Whether or not a firm chooses to act on such information is beyond the control of the RCC, but they are entitled to know who they are hiring and what possible liability they may have to incur.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, RCC representative Megha Mehta remarked,
“Usually when you have a legislative reform of this kind, the knee jerk reaction that follows is that it has been done to personally target people to whom you have malicious intent, which is unfair.”
Rather, Mehta pointed out, the amendment was introduced to counter the general attitude of viewing sexual harassment as a casual affair. It intends to make clear that there are consequences to committing such acts. The feeling of powerlessness that comes with having to work with someone who has engaged in such acts had to be addressed. Further, a precedent was sought to be set for future batches forming the RCC.
Read Public Statement of the RCC and Amendment text below.
A few weeks ago, the 5 female members of the Recruitment Co-Ordination Committee, Batch of 2019, proposed an amendment to the RCC Rules to the effect that the RCC will disclose convictions under the NLSIU Code to Combat Sexual Harassment ('SHARIC code') OR the SHARIC code of other colleges/workplaces on an applicant's record, while sending internship applications to firms or co-ordinating with them for placement.
The RCC members who proposed this are Chandni Ochani, Chhavi Singhal, Jashanjot Kaur, Megha Mehta and Ritika Bansal (A big thank you to Mukta Joshi, member of RCC Class who pointed out the lacunae in the existing rules)
We are pleased to announce that the amendment was passed today by a 2/3rds majority of the RCC Class present and voting (39 votes in favour and 6 votes against).
We thank the RCC Class, Batch of 2019 for their co-operation in this endeavour (with a special thanks to Aniruddh Nigam, who is not a part of the RCC Class, but volunteered for successfully moderating a discussion on the amendment yesterday night). We hope this amendment will contribute in the ongoing fight towards
- Deterring instances of sexual harassment by NLSIU community members on/off campus
- Deterring instances of sexual harassment by NLSIU community members in the future in their respective workplaces or in other educational instituions
- Helping sexual harassment victims avoid the ignonimity of working in proximity to their harassers
- Helping firms achieve full disclosure as to information relating to acts of sexual harassment, so that they may fulfil their obligations under the Vishakha Guidelines and the 2013 Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act
Please see the full text of the amendment reproduced below for your reference
(i) The RCC shall, prior to sending applications for internships, and subsequently, prior to placement, inquire of firms whether they require information about instances of sexual harassment on the applicant's record.
In the event a firm confirms, either on its own volition or subsequent to the said inquiry, that it requires such information, RCC shall disclose the following information to firms: namely if a RCC Class Member has been found guilty of 'sexual harassment' as defined under the Code to Combat Sexual Harassment, NLSIU ["SHARIC Code"] or under the sexual harassment redressal mechanism of another institution or workplace.
(ii) In the event that the concerned Class Member requests the Vice Chancellor to review the Final Order under Section 19 of SHARIC code, the remarks sent across to the firms, disclosing the Final Order shall mention that the decision is pending review.
(iii) In the event that the Vice Chancellor under Section 19 of the SHARIC Code sets aside the Final Order, the RCC shall
- a) Notify all firms to whom remarks were sent earlier that the Final Order has been set aside
- b) Remove remarks relating to the applicant's SHARIC record in all subsequent internship applications or communications with firms.
(iv) In the event that the Vice Chancellor under Section 19 of the SHARIC Code confirms the Final Order, RCC shall
- a) Notify all firms to whom remarks were sent earlier that the Final Order has been confirmed
- b) Amend remarks relating to the appellant's SHARIC record to state that the Final Orders have been confirmed in all subsequent internship applications or communications with firms.
(v) The burden of bringing the information set out in (ii)-(iv) to the the RCC's notice is upon the RCC Class Member concerned or any of the aggrieved parties to the proceedings, as the case may be, though RCC may act suo motu upon the information coming to their notice.
(vi) Rules (ii)-(v) will apply mutatis mutandis where the decision is submitted for review and confirmed/set aside by the reviewing or appellate authority in another institution or workplace.
Explanation I: For the purpose of these rules, the term 'guilty of sexual harassment' will mean guilty according to the Registrar's final orders, as given under Section 17(g) of the SHARIC Code or guilty according to the publicly released Final Orders of another institution or workplace's sexual harassment redressal mechanism. ["Final Order"]
'Disclosure of information' means disclosure of all information which is made publicly available in the said Final Order, including information relating to the punishment and/or mitigating circumstances.
The term 'workplace' for the purpose of these rules will have the same meaning as defined under Section 2(o) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Explanation II: In the event that an alleged victim of sexual harassment requests the Vice Chancellor to review a Final Order finding a RCC Class Member innocent of sexual harassment, and the Vice Chancellor under Section 19 sets aside the Final Order and reconstitutes the SHIC to conduct a fresh inquiry, this Rule will apply to subsequent Final Orders resulting from the fresh inquiry.
This applies mutatis mutandis to review of findings made by the sexual harassment redressal mechanism of another institution or workplace.
Explanation III: Disclosure under these rules is limited to the publicly available Final Order of the Vice Chancellor/Registrar in accordance with Section 27(c) of the SHARIC Code. RCC and RCC Class members are bound to maintain confidentiality with respect to all other details of proceedings under the Code, in accordance with Section 27(a) and (b) of the SHARIC Code or the provisions dealing with confidentiality under the sexual harassment redressal rules of another institution/workplace, as the case may be. "
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