POSH and Higher Educational InstitutionsPublished: Jan 10th, 2020 07:58 pm
POSH and Higher Educational
POSH – Prevention of Sexual
harassment of women at Workplace Law... Whenever, Wherever we say POSH, we
often think about Corporates, The large establishments, Offices, Government undertakings
etc., but we hardly think about the Higher Educational Institutions.
In India, the institutional framework
of higher education consists
of Universities and Colleges. As reported in
2015, India has 760 universities and 38,498 colleges.
India's higher education system is the third largest in
the world, next to the United
authorized POSH Trainer, in our experience there are well reputed Higher
Educational Institutions (HEI) who either are not aware of the applicability of
POSH law or are they not serious about the implementation POSH Law at their
Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH
Act) is applicable on all educational Institutions also. Looking into gravity
and seriousness of the subject the affiliating bodies for Higher Educational
Institutions i.e. University Grants
Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)have issued separate regulations for applicability and implementation of POSH law. The regulations
University Grants Commission
(Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees
and Students in Higher Education Institutes) Regulations, 2015
All India Council for Technical
Education (Gender sensitization, Prevention and Prohibition of Sexual Harassment
of Women Employees and Students and Redressal in Technical Educational
Institutions) Regulations, 2016.
apply on all Higher and Technical Educational Institutions and it insists
strict compliance. In fact, these regulations are stipulated wider definitions
and scope to handle the subject issue in HEI vis-à-vis the Corporate.
In fact, as regards to the Corporate, the
POSH Act, as of now, applies to the complaints of women, the UGC and AICTE
Regulations apply to the male students also.
the regulations issued by UGC and AICTE are gender neutral so far as students
are concerned. Even the male, trans-sexual or third gender students can also
file a complaint under these regulations, in case they face sexual harassment
at ‘campus’ (as defined below).
Regulations, there are additional definitions which are not under the POSH Act,
with an intention to cover the entire system of HEI under the gamut of law.
at some of those definitions:
workplace includes Campus which is defined as
location or the land of HEI;
laboratories, lecture halls, residences, halls, toilets, student centres,
hostels, dining halls, stadiums, parking areas, parks-like settings and other
amenities like health centres, canteens, Bank counters, etc.,
situated and also includes extended campus and covers within its scope places
visited as a student of the HEI including transportation provided for the
purpose of commuting to and from the institution, the locations outside the
institution on field trips, internships, study tours, excursions, short- term
placements, places used for camps , cultural festivals, sports meets and such
other activities where a person is participating in the capacity of an employee
or a student of the HEI;
• Executive Authority” means the chief executive
authority of the HEI, by whatever name called, in which the general
administration of the HEI is vested.
• a person
duly admitted and pursuing a program of study either through regular mode or
distance mode, including: short-term
training programs in a HEI; Including:
• a student
who is in the process of taking admission in HEIs campus, although not yet admitted;
• a student
who is a participant in any of the activities in a HEI other than the HEI where
such student is enrolled shall be treated as student
sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party
or outsider, who is not an employee or a student of the HEI, but a visitor to
the HEI in some other capacity or for some other purpose or reason.
Harassment’ The definition of sexual
harassment is also extended:
· An unwanted
conduct with sexual undertones if it occurs or which is persistent and which
demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile and intimidating environment or is
calculated to induce submission by actual or threatened adverse consequences.
This is in addition to the definition provided under the POSH Act.
Each and every HEI should
have a ‘zero tolerance policy’ towards sexual harassment. The management should
ensure that there should not be any incident of sexual harassment at the
1. The regular
awareness programs for students, teaching and non-teaching staff:
tolerance policy and its mention in prospectus:
4. Proper redressal system in place in terms of
· Every HEI
must have Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at the institute to handle the
complaint of sexual harassment. The constitution of committee requires students
also to be part of the committee if the matter relates to the student.
A senior woman faculty member
2 faculty Members +
2 non-teaching employees
Preferably who are committed to the cause of women or having legal knowledge or experience in social work
3 students – If the matter pertains to the students
Shall be enrolled at the undergraduate, master’s, and research scholar levels respectively.
From NGO, Association is working for women or any other person having knowledge of issues of sexual harassment.
Any complaint received by any female employee or student
(irrespective of gender) about sexual harassment, must be dealt with by the ICC
within a period of 90 days from the date of the complaint. During the cource of
inquiry, the complainant is also entitled for interim redressal:
– Complainant’s transfer or
– Leave up to 3 months;
– Restraining respondent from
reporting on or evaluating the work or
performance or tests or examination of complainant ;
– if there is a definite
threat, restrain Respondent’s entry into the campus;
Anyone found guilty of
committing an offence of sexual harassment may be punished according to the
applicable service rules. If the respondent is student and found guilty can be
punished with either of below mentioned punishments:
• Withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library,
auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarships, allowances, and
• Suspend or restrict entry into the campus for a specific period;
• Expel and strike off name from the
rolls of the institution,
including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants;
reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and, or, performance of
Either party to the
proceedings, if not satisfied with the recommendations of the Internal
Complaints Committee, may prefer an appeal before Executive Authority within a
period of 30 days from recommendations.
by Executive Authority:
The executive Authority has
to take final decision on the recommendations of ICC within a period of 30
HEI is bound to follow the provisions of POSH Act and Regulations issued by
UGC/AICTE. The non-compliance attracts penalty for HEI:
• Withdrawal of declaration of fitness
to receive grants;
• Removal from the Commission list;
• Withholding of grants;
• Declaring the institution ineligible
for consideration for any assistance programmes of the Commission;
• Informing the general public, through
a media notice also posted on the website of the Commission, declaring that the
institution does not provide for a zero tolerance policy against sexual
• Recommending the university to
withdraw the affiliation, in case of a college;
• Recommending the Central Government
for withdrawal of declaration as an institution deemed to be university,
• Recommending the State Government to
withdraw the status as university;
• Taking such other action as it deems
action shall be taken after affording an opportunity to explain its position.
In-spite of strict, mandatory provisions to prevent
sexual harassment at any HEI campus, it seems that the HEIs are not serious
about the compliances. The awareness for teaching, non-teaching staff and
students is important aspect to prevent the incidents of sexual harassment and
also will help the students in their future with corporate.
Our young generation
in colleges usually attends many workshops related to various aspects about
their future endeavors including Campus to Corporates. When they reach in their
respective offices, they hear something about POSH, first time. Coming from
college atmosphere, often they struggle to understand the thin line of ‘limits’
while interacting with their female colleagues. If the students are made aware of the laws related to sexual harassment
at college level itself, it’ll be easy for them to understand the boundaries of
behavior at corporate level.
Therefore, while talking or discussing the POSH law
the focus should not only be for corporate rather it should be more for HEIs.
Such initiative will even help minimize such incidents at corporate level also.
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