Protection against harassment and bullying is important because it threatens the freedom and conduciveness of the environment at the institutions. At a more fundamental level, such conduct is unacceptable because it violates personal dignity and shall not be tolerated at the College under any circumstance.
In accordance with the terms of this policy, harassment of any type shall be prohibited in the College, and shall constitute a punishable offence under the policy. The College affirms the right of every member of the College to live, study and work in an environment that is free from harassment/bullying. The goal of this policy is to prevent sexual harassment from taking place, and where necessary to act upon complaints of harassment promptly, fairly, judiciously and with due regard to confidentiality for all parties concerned.
All Directors, Administrators, Department Heads, Faculty Members and others in supervisory or leadership positions have an obligation to be familiar with and to uphold this policy and its procedures along with informing members of their staff about its existence. This policy is consistent with and has been made in light of the provisions of “The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 (as amended)”. It extends the protection against harassment (especially sexual) to all members of the College, and provides the option to aggrieved persons to seek recourse to resources within the College or to seek redressal through the provisions of the Act 2010-ibid.
Section 2(h) of the Act 2010-ibid defines the Harassment as under:
“Harassment means any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply such a request or is made a condition for employment”.
In addition to the above definition envisaged in the Act 2010-ibid, the following most common other behaviors also fall within the ambit of Harassment:
This policy applies to actions by students, faculty, staff, and other members of the College or third parties (such as service providers and visitors, etc.), when the misconduct occurs:
The College shall designate at least two members as “Focal Persons,” at least one of whom shall be a woman, to offer support and immediate assistance to those who have experienced harassment. The College shall also constitute a Harassment Inquiry Committee to investigate and adjudicate any allegations of prohibited conduct.
A complaint may be lodged by any person who has experienced harassment with either the Focal Person or with any member of the Harassment Inquiry Committee.
The complainant/affected person shall have the option to prefer a complaint to the Ombudsperson in terms of section (8) of the Act 2010-ibid.
In the event that a complainant is reluctant to contact the Focal Persons or any members of the Inquiry Committee, the complainant may contact a Colleague or Instructor or Incharge or Administrator or HOD. It will be the responsibility of the individual contacted to report the case to the Inquiry Committee without identifying either the complainant or the alleged offender and to ask for advice on procedure and policy from them to effect a solution if a solution is necessary.
Complainants shall be required to submit complaints promptly and immediately but not later than 07 days from the date of the alleged harassment/occurrence. An extension of up to 07 days can be granted by the Focal Persons or the Inquiry Committee upon a written request stating the reasons for the delay in submitting the complaint, if grounds of delay will be found genuine.
All members of the College are encouraged to report any instances of harassment that they may have observed to the Focal Persons or the Inquiry Committee. For the purposes of safeguarding the campus, the College has an obligation to investigate material violations of this policy even in the event that a formal complaint has not been filed. As soon as a complaint or report is received by one of the designated resources, it shall be shared by him or her (within a period of 24 hours) with all Focal Persons and members of the Inquiry Committee for further action. For minor violations, complainants may opt to make an informal complaint to either the Focal Person or the Inquiry Committee. The primary objective of the informal resolution mechanism is to take preventative action, so that minor violations are detected early and appropriate warning is given to the accused to stop the offending behavior before it reaches a higher degree of seriousness. If the incident reported through this mechanism constitutes prohibited conduct under Section 2 of this policy, the Inquiry Committee shall deal with the complaint accordingly.
As soon as a complaint or report is received by designated resources or any member of the College, depending on the nature and seriousness of the offense, the Focal Persons shall take appropriate steps to provide interim measures that may be requested by the affected persons or as otherwise may be deemed appropriate. If the affected person is not satisfied with the measures taken, he or she may contact any member of the Inquiry Committee for necessary action. Interim measures include but are not limited to:
The Inquiry Committee shall be responsible for the investigation and adjudication of any complaint received in connection with the violation of this policy. The Inquiry Committee shall be constituted in the following manner:
A College staff member shall be appointed to assist the Inquiry Committee.
All complaints alleging Harassment shall be forwarded to the Inquiry Committee within 24 hours of being received by the Focal Persons or any other office of the College.
As soon as is reasonably practicable after receiving a complaint, the Inquiry Committee shall determine whether the alleged conduct in the complaint meets the criteria set forth in Sections 2 (Prohibited Conduct) and Section 3 (Jurisdiction) of this policy. If it is determined by a majority of the members of the Inquiry Committee that the alleged conduct meets the aforementioned criteria, a formal investigation shall be initiated. In the absence of a formal complaint, if a serious violation of this policy is reported to the Inquiry Committee, or a series of allegations against the same person are received, the Inquiry Committee may determine by majority vote to initiate proceedings after approval of the Chairman. After initiating the investigation, and not later than three days of the receipt of a written complaint, the Inquiry Committee shall:
The following rules shall be applicable to the hearings conducted by the Inquiry Committee:
Following the formal hearing, the members of the Inquiry Committee shall deliberate and determine the validity of the complaint based on the totality of the circumstances. The presence or absence of evidence cannot always be the sole criteria on which a judgment can be made. The credibility of statements and context must be kept in mind during the deliberations. The committee members will reach a decision unanimously or by a majority after the deliberations. Where the complaint is found to be valid, the Committee will recommend an appropriate penalty.
The Inquiry Committee shall complete the inquiry and recommend its final decision within a period of 30 days. It shall then send its recommendations to the Chairman giving its findings in writing by recording reasons thereof (which shall include any note of dissent) for endorsement and action. Decision of the Inquiry shall be notified/implemented within seven days.
Confidentiality shall be enjoined on the Focal Persons, the Inquiry Committee, and all others involved in the process. This does not preclude the reasonable and discreet disclosure of information in order to elicit the facts of the case, or to implement and monitor properly the terms of any decision.
The Focal Persons, members of the Inquiry Committee, and their support staff shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action for inappropriate breaches of confidentiality on their part.
All notes and records arising in connection with an investigation shall be maintained in a confidential file at the College.
(I) In cases in which the accused/respondent is a student, the following sanctions may be imposed:
(II) In cases in which the respondent is a member of the faculty, researcher, or employee/staff of the College or third parties (such as service providers and visitors, etc.), the following sanctions may be imposed (individually or in combination), keeping in view the terms of the applicable employment policies:
A complainant aggrieved by the decision made under section (10) of this policy may prefer an appeal within thirty days to the Ombudsperson (Appellate Authority) appointed by virtue of section (7) of the Act 2010-ibid.
Both the complainant and the accused/respondent, however, shall have also the option to appeal the decision of the Inquiry Committee within a period of 30 days from the date of notification/implementation of the decision to the College “Appellate Body”.
A three-member “Appellate Body” appointed by the Chairman that shall include at least one senior member of the College administration (at the level of HOD/Principal or equivalent) and at least one of the members of which shall be a woman. No member of the Inquiry Committee shall concurrently be a member of the Appellate Body. In case the complaint had been made against one of the members of the committee, that member shall be replaced by another (impartial member) for that particular case.
Appeal to the Appellate Body against the decision of the Inquiry Committee can be filed on the following grounds:
In order to reach its decision, the Appellate Body may communicate with the parties, the members of the Inquiry Committee, or other members of the College community as it deems fit.
The Appellate Body may, on consideration of the appeal and any other relevant material, confirm, set aside, vary, or modify the decision within 30 days in respect of which such appeal is made, and shall communicate the decision to both the parties, the Chairman, and the Inquiry Committee.
False allegations of harassment made out of malice or intent to hurt the reputation of the persons against whom the complaint is filed are to be dealt with as serious offenses. Making a mala fide allegation of harassment (especially sexual) knowing it to be false, whether in a formal or informal context, is a serious offense under this policy.
In the event that the Inquiry Committee determines that a false allegation made in the complaint with mala fide intent, it may recommend appropriate action against the complainant by sending its findings to the Chairman (by recording reasons thereof and including any note of dissent) for endorsement and action. In cases in which the conduct falls within the scope of the Act 2010 ibid, the Inquiry Committee may recommend the handing over of such cases to the Ombudsperson for taking further action against the complainant who made the false allegation with mala fide intent.
The College shall not allow reprisal or threats of reprisal against any member of the College who makes use of this policy (formally or informally). The College shall also prohibit such threats or actions against anyone who participates (e.g. testifies, assists, etc.) in proceedings held under its jurisdiction.
Retaliation or any other action against complainant of sexual harassment is to be taken seriously under the provisions of this policy. All allegations of retaliation would be investigated formally under the purview of this policy, and if substantiated, would result in appropriate disciplinary action.
In contrast with sexual harassment, personal relationships among consenting adults of the College that do not breach the social and cultural norms of the society are, in general, a private matter.
Under the policy, it is highly inappropriate for any member of the College to establish an intimate relationship with a student, subordinate, or colleague on whose academic or work performance he or she will be required to make professional judgments. The policy requires that the individual may not involve themselves in such conduct as the professional responsibility for supervision or oversight would be affected in such cases. Relationships with a difference in power and authority can seriously affect the institutional working as well as the credibility of all involved. In particular, an intimate or romantic relationship between faculty members and students by any means is strictly discouraged and prohibited.