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Complaints


Note: This part presents only a summary of the procedure that will be followed. For detailed guidelines, please refer to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, (2013) and the UGC (Prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and students in higher educational institutions) Regulations (2015).

Complaints Mechanism


1.) Complaints Filing Process


a) Any student, service provider, outsider, or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff may lodge a complaint of sexual harassment against a student, service provider, outsider, or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or an Officer of JGU, or a member of the Authorities or a Committee of JGU.

b) Complaints should be lodged by the concerned person directly with any member of COGSASH. Third party complaints and witness complaints shall not be entertained except in cases where the complainant has been forcibly prevented from making a complaint; in such cases a complaint can be made on her/his behalf until she/he can approach COGSASH.

c) Complaints may be oral or in writing. If the complaint is oral, it would be converted into a written form by the COGSASH member receiving the complaint and authenticated by the complainant under her/his dated signature or thumb impression as the case may be as soon as possible. Complaints may also be received by email via the official shc@jgu.edu.in email address.

d) Details of the incident(s) of harassment, date, time, and place must be recorded. Complaints must be filed within three months of the incident or of the most recent incident.

e) The history of who the complainant approached (family, friends, teachers etc) before making a formal complaint must also be recorded.

f) Upon receipt of the complaint, the COGSASH member to whom the complaint is made shall forward the same to the Complaints Screening Committee.

2.)  Manner in which complaints can be made:


a) Complaints should be lodged by the concerned person directly with any member of COGSASH. Complaints may be received orally, by email or in writing. See above for further details.

b) If the complainant is unable to file a complaint themself the following will apply:

i) First is where the victim is physically incapacitated from making a complaint, it can be made by someone on her/his behalf, which includes a friend or any person who knows of the incident and has the written authorization of the victim to make a complaint.

ii) Second, where the victim is mentally incapacitated from making a complaint someone can make the complaint on her/his behalf.

iii) Third, if the victim is unable to file a formal complaint, someone who knows of the incident can do so provided they have the written authorization of the victim to make the complaint.

iv) Fourth is when the victim has passed away, a person who knows of the incident may file a complaint if they have received the written authorization of the victim’s heirs.

2.) Complaints Screening Process:


a) COGSASH shall designate by rotation five persons from amongst its members for a period of six months to screen complaints. These five persons would constitute the Complaints Screening Committee.

c) The Complaints Screening Committee shall meet within three-working days of the complaint being lodged. Any action necessary to facilitate the screening process (such as talking to the parties involved) should be initiated within three working days after the first meeting of the Complaints Screening Committee.

d) The entire screening process shall not take more than two weeks from the date of the initial complaint. On completion of the screening process, the Complaints Screening Committee shall make a formal recommendation to COGSASH about whether or not a Formal Inquiry process should be put in place, along with the reasons and documentary evidence, if any, thereof, in writing. A Formal Inquiry is to be recommended if the Complaints Screening Committee feels that the complaint needs further investigation, i.e., the complaint is not prima facie baseless. However, the recommendation of the Complaints Screening Committee is not binding on COGSASH.

e) During both the complaints screening process as well as the Formal Inquiry process (detailed in the subsequent section), the following principles and procedures shall be followed:

i) At no time in the complaints receiving and screening procedure shall the defendant(s) and the complainant be placed face to face, or put in a situation where they may be face to face (e.g., they shall not be called at the same time and be made to wait in the same place), keeping strictly in view the need to protect the complainant from facing any serious health and/or safety problems, in accordance with the guidelines in the Supreme Court Judgments.

ii) At no time in the complaints receiving and screening procedure shall the past sexual history of the complainant be probed into, as such information shall be deemed irrelevant to a complaint of sexual harassment.

iii) At all points in the complaints receiving and screening procedure, confidentiality of both parties shall be maintained. If any member of the complaints screening Committee, the formal Inquiry Committee or COGSASH violates this norm, s/he will be automatically disqualified.

f) COGSASH may issue an order of restraint to the defendant(s) in accordance with the procedure outlined below:

A restraint order shall provide a summary of the complaint, the date(s), time(s), and location(s), of the alleged incident(s). It shall warn the defendant(s) that any attempt on her /his part or by person(s) acting on her /his behalf, to contact, or influence, or intimidate, or exert pressure on the complainant or any person in the complainant’s confidence may prove prejudicial to her/his case.

g) The complainant or any other person shall intimate in writing the Complaints Screening Committee, the Presiding Officer of COGSASH and/or the Inquiry Committee of any violation of the order of restraint by the defendant(s), or any persons acting on her /his behalf.

h) Should the Complaints Screening Committee, the Chairperson of COGSASH, or the Inquiry Committee be convinced of the truth of such allegations, the Presiding Officer of COGSASH and/or the Chief Inquiry Officer may summon the defendant(s) in person and issue a verbal and written warning that such behaviour may lead to an adverse inference being drawn against her/him. The Inquiry Committee or COGSASH shall retain the right to close the Inquiry proceedings, and to give an ex parte decision on the complaint.

i) The Inquiry Committee and COGSASH shall consider all violations of the restraint order when determining the nature of offence of a defendant.

j) The Complaints Screening Committee shall also be responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure that both the complainant as well as the defendant are informed about and provided access to counselling services at least once; further follow-up would be left to the discretion of the concerned party. COGSASH may recommend suitable NGOs for this purpose as and when required.

3.)  Procedures


1) Procedure for inquiry:


a) One written copy of the complaint must be received (either in writing, by email or a transcript by a Committee member of an oral complaint). A copy of the complaint must be submitted with the details of witnesses to the Complaints Committee.

b) One copy has to be given to the respondent (person against whom a complaint has been filed) within 7 days from when the complaint was received.

c) Within 10 days of receiving a copy of the complaint and other accompanying documents, the respondent has to respond with documents and details of witnesses.

e) The inquiry can be terminated, or proceeded with ex parte (when the respondent does not cooperate) if the party (either the complainant or respondent) does not present themselves for three consecutive hearings and no reasonable cause has been offered. Proviso: The termination of the inquiry or proceeding with the inquiry ex parte, as the case.

may be, may not be done without serving a written notice to the party in question. Such notice must be served at least 15 days before the relevant decision is to be made.

f) No lawyer is allowed to represent either party.

g) A minimum of four members are needed to conduct the inquiry, which must include the Chairperson, and two non-teaching staff.

2.)  Procedure for conciliation:


a) The Internal Complaints Committee may, before initiating an inquiry at the request of the complainant, take steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation provided that no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation.

b) Where a settlement has been arrived at under sub-section (a), the Internal Complaints Committee shall record the settlement so arrived at and forward the same to COGSASH to take action as specified in the recommendation.

c) The Internal Committee shall provide the copies of the settlement as recorded under sub-section (2) to the complainant and the respondent.

d) Where a settlement is arrived at under sub-section (b), no further inquiry shall be conducted by the Internal Committee.

4.) Withdrawal of Complaints:


a) The complainant may withdraw his/her complaint in writing at any time during the complaints receiving and/or Inquiry procedure. However, COGSASH must ascertain the reasons for withdrawal of the complaint record the same in writing and get it counter-signed by the complainant.

b) The Complaints Screening/Inquiry procedure shall, on such withdrawal, be terminated, save in instances in which the Complaints Screening/Inquiry Committee is informed, knows, or has reason to believe, that the reasons for such withdrawal are the consequences or effect of coercion and intimidation exerted by the defendant(s), or any person on her/his behalf, on the complainant. In such an instance, the Complaints Screening/Inquiry proceedings shall continue in accordance with the procedure outlined in the Rules.

5.)  Complaint-related procedures:


a) A complainant has the right to go public if s/he so desires. Going public before giving the complaint to COGSASH by the complainant should not prejudice the COGSASH members. Once a complaint has been given to COGSASH, the complainant should preferably not go public until the inquiry is completed.

b) Notwithstanding its commitment to confidentiality requirements, COGSASH retains its right to collectively issue a public statement or publicly respond to allegations made against COGSASH or any of its members. However, members of COGSASH cannot go public in their individual capacity.

c) Filing of a grievance/complaint shall not adversely affect the complainant’s status/job, salary/promotion, grades etc.

d) COGSASH should make efforts to ensure that the complainants and the witnesses are not further victimised or discriminated against while it is dealing with the complaint. COGSASH shall take action against anyone who intimidates the complainant or members of COGSASH, during or after the screening and inquiry.

e) Any member of COGSASH charged with sexual harassment in a complaint must step down as member during the screening and inquiry into that complaint.

6.)  Formal Inquiry:


a) Once the Complaints Screening Committee communicates its decision to COGSASH, COGSASH shall meet within five working days from the date of such communication to (i) decide whether the complaint merits further scrutiny and (ii) in case the complaint merits further scrutiny, to constitute the Inquiry Committee.

7.)  Composition of the Inquiry Committee


a) The Inquiry Committee shall consist of five persons, at least 50% women, led by the Chief Inquiry Officer who shall be a woman, chosen from within the members of COGSASH. As a third-party voice, it shall include the outside expert. To the extent possible, it shall include a representative each from the constituency of the complainant and the defendant.

b) If a student is lodging a complaint he/she may request that a Student Representative is also part of the ICC. This suggestion will be considered by the Chief Inquiry Officer and approved so long as there is not seen to be any breach of interest or impartiality.

c) No person who is a complainant, witness, or defendant in the complaint of sexual harassment shall be a member of the Inquiry Committee.

d) COGSASH may, at its own discretion, co-opt any person with gender sensitivity to be a part of the Inquiry Committee, provided that the majority of members are the members of COGSASH. Such a person shall not serve as the Chief Inquiry officer.

8.)  Functions, powers and responsibilities of the Inquiry Committee


a) The Inquiry Committee shall enquire into the complaint of sexual harassment and shall submit a detailed report to COGSASH, in which it shall communicate its findings based on its investigations.

b) The Inquiry Committee shall conduct the proceedings in a fair manner and shall follow the principles of natural justice by providing reasonable opportunity to the complainant and the defendant for presenting and defending his/her case.

c) The Inquiry Committee shall have to complete the inquiry within a reasonable time not exceeding three months from the date the complaint is referred to it.

d) At any time in the inquiry proceedings, the Inquiry Committee shall not put the complainant and the defendant in a situation where they may be face to face.

e) The Inquiry Committee may call any person to appear as a witness, if it is of the opinion that it shall be in the interest of just decision-making.

f) The Inquiry Committee shall have the power to ask the relevant authorities for any official papers or documents pertaining to the complainant as well as the defendant.

g) Records of all evidence gathered in the course of the inquiry shall be maintained.

h) The Inquiry Committee may consider as relevant any earlier complaints against the defendant. However, the past sexual history of the complainant shall be deemed irrelevant to a complaint of sexual harassment.

i) If the defendant fails, without valid ground, to present himself/herself for three hearings convened by the Chief Inquiry Officer the Inquiry Committee shall have the right to take a decision on the complaint based upon the available evidence.

j) The identities of all witnesses shall be protected by the Inquiry Committee. A coding system may be used for this purpose.

k) All persons heard by the Inquiry Committee shall take and observe an oath of secrecy about the proceedings. Any violations of the oath of secrecy would invite action by the appropriate authority as per the recommendation of COGSASH.

l) After completing the investigation, the Inquiry Committee shall submit a detailed report of its findings to the Chairperson of COGSASH, including an indication of whether it finds the defendant guilty or not guilty along with reasons for its decision.

Note:
Most cases of sexual harassment occur in private, so there may not be any eye-witness. The Inquiry Committee will have to come to a conclusion about the complaint without proof or evidence of this kind. It will rely on circumstantial evidence and the testimonies of the complainant, the defendant, and witnesses if any. This inquiry is not a criminal investigation. Strong probability, rather than ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’, is enough to take a decision on the complaint.

9.) Communication of findings of the Inquiry Committee and follow-up procedures


a) Within three working days of the receipt of the report of the Inquiry Committee, copies of the report shall be made available to all members of COGSASH.

b) As soon as the report is received by COGSASH, all members of COGSASH shall have access to records of evidence collected by the Inquiry Committee.

c) Within three working days of the receipt of the report of the Inquiry Committee, the chairperson of COGSASH shall convene a meeting to deliberate upon the findings of the Inquiry Committee. COGSASH may adopt the findings of the Inquiry Committee in toto with regard to the culpability or otherwise of the defendant and recommend suitable action. If COGSASH does not agree with the findings of the Inquiry Committee, it shall refer the case back to the Inquiry Committee for consideration of the concerns expressed by COGSASH. The Inquiry Committee shall have to resubmit its findings within five working days from the date the case is referred back to it. Within three working days of the resubmitted findings, a meeting of COGSASH shall be convened. If COGSASH does not agree with the resubmitted findings, any modifications of the same can be made by it only with a 2/3rd majority of the total members of COGSASH.

d) In the event that a decision about both culpability of the defendant as well as the action to be taken is not reached by COGSASH in a single meeting, at most one more meeting may be called within two working days to arrive at the final decision.

e) Within two working days of the decision of COGSASH, the chairperson of COGSASH shall communicate the decision of the COGSASH to the appropriate authority, along with the report of the Inquiry Committee, together with a summary of opinions of its members (including dissenting opinions).

f) Within three working days from the date of communication of the findings by COGSASH, the appropriate authority shall convene a meeting with COGSASH to discuss the decision of COGSASH and the report of the Inquiry Committee for follow-up action.

g) In the event that no action has been taken one week after the meeting between the appropriate authority and COGSASH, the Chairperson of COGSASH shall convene a meeting of COGSASH with the appropriate authority to take stock of the situation.

h) In the event that the action taken is different from the one recommended by COGSASH, the Presiding Officer of COGSASH shall convene a meeting of COGSASH with the appropriate authority and enquire about the reasons for the divergence.

i) In the event that appropriate follow-up action has not been taken by the appropriate authority one week after the meeting described in clauses (i) and (ii) above, COGSASH shall communicate its discontent in writing to the authority.

j) In the event that any new fact or evidence arises or is brought before COGSASH at any stage of the inquiry proceedings or even after the communication of the findings to the appropriate authority, COGSASH can take cognizance of this and take appropriate action; this may include reconstitution of the Inquiry Committee, in which case the new Inquiry Committee shall include at least half of the members of the Inquiry Committee that originally enquired into the said complaint.

10.)  Redressal


1) Guiding Principles


a) The guiding principle of the redressal mechanism is to use retributive measures along with measures that go beyond retribution. There will be provisions for punishment for the offender once the offence is proved. There will also be measures at every step of the Inquiry and the punishment to treat the offender as a human being susceptible to changing one’s behaviour on positive suggestions and social pressures.

b) Redresal shall involve supportive measures for the complainant and protection against victimization. Filing of a grievance or complaint will not reflect upon/adversely affect the complainant’s status, future evaluation of grades, assignments, employment, promotion etc.

c) As a general principle, everyone who is associated with redressal of sexual harassment needs to be sensitive towards both the offender and the complainant. To this end, it is advisable that they undergo periodic orientation and training.

2) Punishments


a) Any student, service provider, resident, outsider, or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or an Officer of JGU, or a member of the Authorities or Committee of JGU found guilty of sexual harassment shall be liable for disciplinary action. The penalties listed below (in ascending order) are indicative, and shall not constrain the JGU authorities from considering others, in accordance with the rules governing the conduct of employees and students in practice at the time.

b) Penalties in Case of Faculty


i) Warning, reprimand, or censure.
ii) Withholding of one or more increments for a period not exceeding one year.
iii) Removal from a position of authority at JGU
iv) Disbarment from holding an administrative position at JGU
v) Suspension from service for a limited period
vi) Compulsory retirement
vii) Dismissal from service
viii) The penalty awarded shall be recorded in his/her Confidential Record. The right to an official character certificate may also be withdrawn where applicable.

b) Penalties in Case of Faculty


i) Warning, reprimand, or censure.
ii) Withholding of one or more increments for a period not exceeding one year.
iii) Removal from a position of authority at JGU
iv) Disbarment from holding an administrative position at JGU
v) Suspension from service for a limited period
vi) Compulsory retirement
vii) Dismissal from service
viii) The penalty awarded shall be recorded in his/her Confidential Record. The right to an official character certificate may also be withdrawn where applicable.

c) Penalties in Case of Non-Teaching Staff and Project Staff


i) Warning, reprimands, or censure.
ii) Transfer
iii) Withholding of one or more increments for a period not exceeding one year
iv) Suspension from service for a limited period
v) Compulsory retirement
vi) Dismissal from service
vii) Further, the penalty awarded shall be recorded in his/her Confidential Record. The right to an official character certificate may also be withdrawn where applicable.

d) Penalties in Case of JGU Students


i) Warning or reprimand.
ii) Withdrawal of the right to an official character certificate from JGU.
iii) Withdrawal of hostel accommodation for the entire period of study.
iv) Rustication from JGU for a period up to two semesters.
v) Expulsion from JGU, and/or a bar on appearing for the examination/interview offered by JGU.
vi) Withholding of a degree conducted by JGU. Further the penalty awarded shall be recorded in his/her Personal File.

e) Penalties in Case of Outsiders


i) Warning, reprimands, or censure.
ii) A letter communicating her/his misconduct to her/his place of education, employment or residence.
iii) Declaration of the campus as out of bounds for her/him, and/or a bar on appearing for the entrance examination/interview to any programme of study or employment offered by JGU.
iv) Any other action as may be necessary.

f) Penalties in Case of Service Providers


i) Warning, reprimands, or censure.
ii) A letter communicating her/his misconduct to her/his place of employment.
iii) Declaration of the campus as out of bounds for her/him.
iv) Withdrawal of the right to run/manage/work in any commercial enterprise, or to provide services, on the campus.
v) Any other action as may be necessary.

g) Penalties in case of Officer of JGU, or a member of the Authorities or Committee of JGU


f. Warning, reprimands or censure.
g. Any other action as may be necessary
h. In addition to the penalties specified under (a)-(f) above, the person may be advised to undergo counselling and gender sensitisation, and to give a written and/or public apology
to the complainant.

h) Penalty in Case of a Second Offence


i) A second, or repeated offence, may, on the recommendation of COGSASH, attract a higher penalty.

3) Appeals


a) In the event of the COGASH not taking action on a complaint, or if the complainant or defendant is dissatisfied with the disciplinary action taken by the JGU authorities, she/he shall have the right to appeal to an Appeals Committee. Appeals may also be lodged with the JGU authorities.

b) An Appeals Committee shall consist of:


i) One person nominated by the Board of Governors of JGU from amongst its members,
ii) One former senior woman member of COGSASH nominated by the Vice Chancellor. If there is no former senior woman member of COGSASH, the Vice Chancellor could appoint a senior woman member from the currently functioning COGSASH. This nominee shall chair the Appeals Committee, and
iii) One woman faculty member of JGU nominated by the Vice Chancellor.

c) The Appeals Committee shall have all the powers and duties of an Appellate Body. It shall consider the appeal, with the appellant deposing in person. It shall have the power to summon any person as witness as well as any official record. On the basis of all the evidence before it, including the deposition of the appellant, if it is satisfied that the matter needs to be further enquired into, it shall conduct an inquiry in accordance with the guidelines in the Supreme Court Judgment.

d) The Appeals Committee shall report to the Board of Governors of JGU its findings and recommendations on the nature of the action to be taken on the appeal.

11) False Complaints/Depositions


a) If the Complaints Screening Committee or the Inquiry Committee finds no merit in any particular complaint/deposition, it shall write to the chairperson of the COGSASH, giving reasons for its decision.

b) Within three working days of the receipt of this communication from the Complaints Screening Committee (three working days in the case of the Inquiry Committee), the chairperson of COGSASH shall convene a meeting to discuss the recommendations of the complaints screening Committee or the Inquiry Committee and to decide whether a show-cause notice shall be issued to the complainant/witness(es). Upon the decision to issue a show-cause notice, the chairperson of COGSASH shall issue it to the complainant/witness(es) and require the complainant/witness(es) to explain within five working days as to why disciplinary actions shall not be taken against him/her. Within three working days of the receipt of any explanation from the complainant/witness(es), the chairperson shall convene a meeting to consider the explanation. In the event of an unconvincing explanation, the COGSASH shall forward its findings to the appropriate authority for follow-up action.

12) Protection against Victimization


a) If found guilty, the defendant shall not (i) supervise any academic activity (such as evaluation, examination or supervision of research) of the complainant/witness and/or (ii) write the confidential report of the complainant/witness.

b) During an inquiry voluntary interim measures may be put in place to ensure the aggrieved victim and the respondent do not come in to contact with each other. These may include but are not limited to: transferring desk/usual working space to another department; additional security/vigilance whilst on campus; voluntary leave (up to three months); relaxation of attendance for students which will not affect their opportunity to sit exams/assessment.

13) Amendment to the Rules and Procedures of COGSASH


a) Amendments to the Rules and procedures of COGSASH shall have effect only if these are compatible with the letter and spirit of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, the Supreme Court Vishaka judgement and any future Supreme Court judgements deemed applicable. Amendments shall be effected by decisions taken in a special meeting of COGSASH called for this purpose. Proposed amendments shall be circulated at least five working days prior to the special meeting called for this purpose. An amendment shall be passed by two-thirds of the total members of COGSASH.

14) Obligations of JGU Authorities


a) The JGU authorities shall notify, each academic year, the names and contact details of the members of COGSASH and the fact that COGSASH is the Committee responsible for gender sensitisation and action against sexual harassment.

b) The authorities shall maintain full confidentiality with respect to matters pertaining to COGSASH enquiries into complaints of sexual harassment.

c) The authorities shall act promptly on the recommendations of the COGSASH pertaining to the various issues outlined above.

d) As required by The Act 2013, the authorities shall forward to the government department concerned the annual report of COGSASH together with a written report on the action taken by them upon the decisions/recommendation of COGSASH.