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The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind has been sent a petition by around 1500 women students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, requesting the Visitor of the University to intervene in the Internal Compliance Committee’s  mechanism and have asked him to rehabilitate the prevailing Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH).

The petition so drafted, was submitted by the Democratic Student’s Federation (DSF) on 28th of the January. The women of the university stated that the verdicts, as announced by the courts have resulted in an environment of uneasiness, preventing students from proceeding towards the ICC.

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According to the earlier reports as presented by The Indian Express, in one case, the Internal Compliance Committee took a series of disciplinary steps against a Redressal seeker including debarring her from the campus and suggesting withdrawal of her degree and asking the complainant to apologise to the defendant in the case.

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The petition presented by the students stated that the extant of the GSCASH was a matter of relief and for the women students of JNU as it ensured their free moment and their safety inside the JNU campus. GSCASH, not only made the campus a safer place, but also did organise numerous events, seminars and workshops enriching the students about harassment issues and guiding them about the effective grievance Redressal mechanism. The current VC of JNU, Prof Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar illicitly removed the GSCASH in the year 2017. The GSCASH came into existence after a prolonged struggle made by the students, teachers and various communities of the university.A petition challenging this illegitimate move by Prof. Kumar is being heard in the Honourable Supreme Court. “Successive media reports have stated that the ICC has completely failed in ensuring justice to complainants in cases of sexual harassment. In one of the cases, it has been reported that the ICC had recommended the removal of the studentship of the complainant and other severe punitive actions. Similarly in the case against Prof Atul Johri, in addition to claiming that he is innocent, the ICC also recommended that he be provided protection against the complainants themselves. In both these matters, the ICC has violated principles of natural justice and the existing POSH Act, 2013… As a result of such verdicts by the ICC, we the women students of JNU have lost our faith in the ICC,” the petition further reads.

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The women students of the JNU felt the urgent need for a functional institutional mechanism wherein they can submit their grievances against  such cases without the fear of receiving any unjust punishments as received by the complainant of the case, cited above. The students came forward together, requesting the President to bring GSCASH back into action and to take legitimate and just action for those in the ICC.

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