Students set to be part of anti-sexual harassment panels in Mumbai colleges
All colleges will have to reconstitute their antisexual harassment panels to include students as members, while principals or department heads will be excluded, states the Maharashtra women commission, which is currently holding awareness workshops for colleges, schools and even corporate offices.
This might ensure vested interests do not interfere with probes into such complaints and make students feel comfortable in reporting instances of harassment, said experts.
Under the University Grants Commission’s notification on May 2, 2016, titled prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and students in higher educational institutions, colleges have to set up internal complaints committees (or anti-sexual harassment panels).
Three of the nine members of these panels must be students — boys and girls — said Vijaya Rahatkar, women’s commission chief. “Previously, colleges were required to have only five members on the panel, but now they will have to include students,” said Rahatkar.
This panel has statutory powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, to summon any person, who is the complainant, victim or witness, examine them and record their statements. “Unfortunately, many of the colleges have not set up such panels or are unaware about their working pattern,” said Rahatkar.