With regard to the Supreme Court Judgement and guidelines issued in 1997 to provide for the effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality and guarantee against sexual harassment and abuse, more particularly against sexual harassment at work places, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued circulars since 1998, to all the universities, advising them to establish a permanent cell and a committee; to develop guidelines to combat sexual harassment, violence against women and ragging at the universities and colleges. Keeping the above guidelines in view Nagarjuna Degree College has constituted a Committee against Sexual Harassment.
Nagarjuna Degree College has committed itself to provide a congenial and conducive atmosphere in which students, teachers and non-teaching staff can work together in an environment free of violence, harassment, exploitation, and intimidation. This includes all forms of gender violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination on the basis of gender. Every member is expected to be aware of the commitment to the right to freedom of expression and association, it strongly supports gender equality and opposes any form of gender discrimination and violence.
The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment in August 1997 (Vishaka & others vs. the State of Rajasthan & others) stated that every instance of sexual harassment is a violation of “Fundamental Rights” under Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution of India, and amounts to a violation of the “Right to Freedom” under Article 19 (1)(g). Another Supreme Court Judgment in January 1999 (Apparel Export Promotion Council vs. Chopra) has stated that sexually harassing behavior “needs to be eliminated as there is no compromise on such violations”. The Supreme Court further reiterated that sexual harassment “is a violation of the fundamental right to gender equality and the right to life and liberty”.
Based on these, the Bangalore City University, to which the college is affiliated, made it mandatory for the affiliated and constituent colleges to adhere to the following from the year 2002:
1. An anti – sexual harassment cell to be made functional with at least two senior women faculty on the committee
2. An anti – sexual harassment policy to be adopted and publicized
3. An affidavit to be submitted by each college declaring that such a policy is adopted and the anti – sexual harassment cell is operative.
The Supreme Court judgment of 1997 makes it obligatory for every employer and other responsible persons to follow the guidelines laid down by the Court and to evolve a specific policy to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Educational institutions under the ambit of Bangalore university are bound by the same directive. Following this, Nagarjuna Degree College Bangalore, being committed to uphold the Constitutional mandate ensuring the above mentioned human rights, adopted the following policy.
Nagarjuna Degree College shall value the dignity of every individual, enhance the development of its human resources, guarantee full respect for human rights, ensures the full enforcement of “Fundamental Rights” under articles 14, 15, 19(1) (g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, and uphold the dignity of workers, employees, applicants for employment, students or those undergoing training, instruction or education. Towards this end, all forms of sexual harassment in the employment, education or training environment are herby declared unlawful.
For this purpose, sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:
1. Physical contact and advances;
2. A demand or request for sexual favours;
3. Sexually coloured remarks;
4. Showing pornography;
5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature
Where any of these acts is committed in circumstances where-under the victim of such conduct has a reasonable apprehension that in relation to the victim’s employment or enrolment in the institution whether she is drawing salary, or honorarium or otherwise, such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem. It is discriminatory for instance when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or work or studentship including recruiting or promotion or academics when it creates a hostile work environment. Adverse consequences might be visited if the victim does not consent to the conduct in question or raises any objection thereto.