CHENNAI: Passing strictures against Pondicherry University, Madras High Court imposed on the varsity a cost of `40,000 for gross mishandling of complaints from two girl students alleging sexual harassment by male colleagues which resulted in the remedy becoming worse than the disease and adding insult to injury.
Justice V Ramasubramanian chided the University and imposed the costs while allowing the writ petitions from Kavya and Vidya Appukuttan challenging the orders of the varsity placing them under suspension and later throwing them away from the hostel.
Since the two students could not attend the second semester in view of the suspension order, the University should conduct special classes for them during the current session and allow them to take the examination that they were not allowed to take earlier, the Judge said.
The University should not deny the petitioners any of the facilities they are entitled to such as hostel, participation in seminars, sports activities etc. It should amend its Administrative Ordinance No.8 suitably, to include sexual harassment of one student by another, within the definition of the expression “sexual harassment of students” under Section 2(h) and within the purview of the Puducherry Ordinance No. 8 of Pondicherry University, which provides for protection against victimisation. The Anti Sexual Harassment Committee of the University should hold an enquiry into the complaints of the petitioners dated September 30, 2013, without reference to the proceedings of the Anti-Ragging Committee or the Disciplinary Committee, which conducted an enquiry earlier. This Committee should take note of the obligations enjoined upon the panel as per law, the Judge added.
Ordering of a proper enquiry alone and that too after setting at naught all the humiliation to which the petitioners have been subjected, will restore the confidence of the girl students in the campus that there is gender justice, the Judge said. Otherwise, the morale of other girl students would go down and this would prove to be a retrograde step for gender equality.