NUJS to have policy against sexual harassment of interns

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Kolkata, Jan 13: Hit by successive complaints by two of its ex-students about sexual harassment during internship, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WB NUJS) on Monday said they were giving final touches to a policy to handle such cases.

WB NUJS spokesperson Ruchira Goswami told PTI the premier legal varsity’s policy against sexual harassment of interns would be ready after a month. "Upon receiving any complaint, we will have a formal process of taking action against the reported harassment of any student, irrespective of whether the internship was provided by us or the student was working on her own. As long as they are our students, we assume their responsibility," she said.

University officials said law students would also be sensitised on how to deal with such cases and would be encouraged to lodge complaints if they are victimised. "Students are extremely vulnerable during their internship as they are afraid to complain against harassment by seniors in the legal fraternity. So we are drafting guidelines and frame rules on how to combat sexual harassment during internships in particular,” the officials said.

A NUJS intern, who passed out last year, had alleged that she was sexually harassed by retired S C judge A K Ganguly who was then functioning as the Chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission. Facing mounting pressure to quit as chief of the rights panel, Ganguly resigned from the post last week. 

Soon after the first complaint, another former student came out with similar allegations against a judge of the apex court, who has now retired.

A NUJS intern had alleged that she was sexually harassed by retired S C judge.

"It seems that she was emboldened by the stand taken by the first intern. But when they were students of the university, none of them had lodged an official complaint with us for which we could not take any action," said Goswami, who is also a teacher. For the university's BA LLB course, each student goes on a six-week compulsory summer internship to legal firms, NGOs, judges, media houses, etc.

During the fourth and fifth year of the course, the students go on self-placed internship for three-four weeks during autumn. Sexual harassment has been the hot topic inside the NUJS campus since the last few days as a university staff has also filed a complaint of sexual harassment against assistant registrar Siddhartha Guha, who was later on arrested by the police.

A section of its alumni has launched a campaign expressing loss of confidence in the administration and seeking intervention of Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, who is also the Chancellor of the university.

"You may have seen several media reports which point to various instances of unrest at NUJS. We have verified many of these reports and are compelled to write to you about the sordid state of affairs in our alma mater," reads the petition addressed to the CJI.

Established in 1999 by the Bar Council of India in conjunction with the government of West Bengal, NUJS is ranked among the topmost law schools in the country.

PTI

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