JNU Calls a Sexual Harassment Complaint ‘Frivolous’, Takes Actions Against Complainant

Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) not only took seven long months to deliberate on a sexual harassment case but also called the complaint “frivolous” in its report released on December 13, 2018.

The student filed a police complaint on April 12, 2018, against her PhD guide, reported India Today. The JNU student union also pressed the administration to take immediate action in this regard. According to the Indian Express, the ICC report stated that she must be completely debarred from entering the JNU campus. The vice chancellor is yet to take a final call on the report.

Also read: JNU Professor Arrested in Sexual Harassment Case, Gets Bail

The report further recommended that the complainant apologises to the university as well as the defendant. “The JNU administration… shall not issue any character certificate and no objection certificate to the complainant in future…,” it said.

The ICC recommended the administration take action against the complainant “if the ICC concludes that the allegations made were false, malicious or the complaint was made knowing it to be untrue, or forged or misleading information has been provided during the inquiry”.

It further says, “In case if the complainant needs to come to the JNU campus for the purpose of inquiry, she will have to give prior intimation to the Proctor Office…She will inform the chief security officer about her entry and exit from JNU campus. The complainant will be escorted by two female security guards.”

Activist Kavita Krishnan, who also served as the joint secretary of JNU student union, condemned ICC’s report:

As reported by the Indian Express, the academic council may put her degree on hold until it concludes its proceedings.

“The ICC was hostile to me from the beginning and had told me not to travel abroad. I’ve submitted my PhD but I’m yet to receive my degree because of which I haven’t been able to apply for a post-doctoral fellowship or a teaching job. The way they have barred me from campus and said I should be escorted by guards, I feel like I’m the criminal,” the complainant told Indian Express.

Similar cases in the past

This is not the first time that the JNU administration has attempted to shield the accused in sexual harassment cases. Another JNU professor Atul Johri, who was accused of sexual harassment by eight students, was granted bail on March 21, 2018, by a city court shortly after his arrest, PTI reported.

The report also stated that the magistrate Ritu Singh directed him to furnish a bond of Rs 30,000 for each of the eight FIRs registered against him.

Similarly, on August 4, 2018, the ICC exonerated two more professors – Mahendra P. Lama and Rajesh Khara – of cases registered against them. The presiding officer of the ICC also reprimanded the complainants for “advertising” the issue.

Also read: JNU’s #MeToo Moment Is About Confronting Two Years’ Worth of Administrative Failures

The ICC’s reports on both cases said that “no case of sexual harassment could be made out against Mahendra P Lama and Rajesh Kharat. Lama is a professor at the Centre for South Asian Studies, where Kharat was the former chairperson.”

The Indian Express quoted the report, saying, “it was observed during the proceedings that the complainant herself was advertising about her complaint on her Facebook and through other electronic media and informed the public at large. Hence, the complainant should be issued a warning to not indulge in such activities in future because this kind of act by any of the complainants, defendants, and witnesses damages the inquiry procedure and the affected parties. This kind of a public propaganda also damages the image of the institution.”