HC sends sexual harassment case to VC of MNLU for fresh adjudication | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC sends sexual harassment case to VC of MNLU for fresh adjudication

Apr 05, 2024 07:32 AM IST

Bombay HC remands MNLU sexual harassment case to vice-chancellor for fresh adjudication, allows accused student to appear for exams outside campus.

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court (HC) last week remanded a case of sexual harassment at Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU) for a fresh adjudication by its vice-chancellor. The division bench of justice AS Chandurkar and justice Jitendra Jain in the meantime allowed the accused student to appear for his 9th and 10th semester examinations, though he was found guilty of sexual harassment on campus twice.

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HT Image

The bench, however, directed MNLU to conduct his internal examination/viva outside the campus and ensure that he and the complainant would not sit in the same examination hall to answer their semester examinations. The bench also clarified that the arrangement was without prejudice to the respective contentions of both the students and his results would be subject to the outcome of the appeal that is to be decided by the Vice Chancellor.

The second incident had taken place in the last week of February 2023 and the aggrieved female student had on March 1 last year lodged a complaint against the male student with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of MNLU.

After hearing both sides, the ICC on April 17, 2023, held the male student guilty of sexually harassing the female student and recommended his expulsion from the rolls of the university. The ICC imposed stern punishment because the male student was earlier found guilty of sexual harassment and was expelled from the university hostel by way of punishment.

The male student then carried the matter before the vice chancellor in appeal raising various grounds. On August 30, 2023, the vice chancellor dismissed his appeal, but took a humanitarian view, as the male student was about to complete his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) course and as a matter of grace allowed him to appear for the last semester examination, but along with repeaters. Both, the complainant female student, who too is pursuing B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) course and the male student then approached the high court. The complainant was aggrieved by the fact that the Vice Chancellor did not hear her while deciding the male student’s appeal and allowed him to appear for the final semester examination.

The male student, on the other hand, claimed that the entire process was vitiated, as it was conducted under the Working Rules for ICC Committee – MNLU, Mumbai, when the University Grants Commission has in 2015 framed separate regulations for Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions and the proceedings should have been conducted under the UGC regulations.

After hearing all the parties, the bench held that the matter required a re-look by the vice-chancellor, as he did not take into consideration various grounds raised by the appellant student, especially about the applicability of the UGC regulations. “This aspect goes to the root of the matter and hence it was necessary for the vice-chancellor to have considered the same,” the bench said.

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