Presidency University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH)

The Presidency University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH) is a quasi-judicial body which aims to address complaints of sexual harassment lodged by any student, faculty member or staff of the university. It has been formed in 2014, immediate after publication of Sexual Harassment Act (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace: Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013) in the Gazette of India. The committee made codification of the law that has laid down mandatory guidelines for every stakeholder of the university to provide a mechanism to redress the grievances pertaining to sexual harassment at workplace.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

‘Sexual Harassment’ means:

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 it calculated to induce submission by actual a ore threatened adverse consequences and includes any one or more or all of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication), namely:-

a) any unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

b) demand or request for sexual favour

c) making sexually coloured remarks

d) physical contact and advances or

e) showing pornography

Any one (or more than one or all) of the following circumstances, if it occurs or is present in relation or connected with any behaviour that has explicit or implicit sexual undertones-

a) implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment as quid pro quo for sexual favors

b) implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in the conduct of work

c) implied or explicit threat above the present or future statutes of the person concerned

d) creating an intimidating offensive or hostile learning environment

e) humiliating treatment likely to affect the health, safety dignity or physical integrity of the person concerned

Responsibilities of PUCASH (as per UGC guidelines):

a) Wherever required, appropriately subsume the spirit of the above definitions in its policy and regulations on prevention and prohibition of sexual harassment against the employees and the students and modify its ordinances and rules in consonance with the requirement of the Regulations;

b) Publicly notify the provisions against sexual harassment and ensure their wide disseminations;

c) Organize training programs or as the case may be, workshops for the officers, functionaries, faculty and students, as indicated in the SAKSHAM Report (Measures for Ensuring the Safety of Women and Programs for Gender Sensitization on Campuses) of the Commission, to sensitize them and ensure knowledge and awareness of the rights, entitlements and responsibilities enshrined in the Act and under these regulations;

d) Act decisively against all gender based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes recognizing that primarily women employees and students and some male students and some students of third gender are vulnerable to many forms of sexual harassment and humiliation and exploitation;

e) Publicly commit itself to a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment;

f) Reinforce its commitment to creating its campus free from discrimination, harassment, retaliation or sexual assault at all level;

g) Create awareness about what constitute sexual harassment including hostile environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment;

h) Include in its prospectus and display prominently at conspicuous places or Notice Boards the penalty and consequences of sexual harassment and make all sections of the institutional community aware of the information on the mechanism put in place for redressal of complaints pertaining to sexual harassment

Process of making complaints:

a) An aggrieved person is required to submit a written complaint to the ICC within three months from the date of the incident and in the case of a series of incidents within a period of three months from the date of the last incident

b) Provided that where such complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or and member of the Internal Committee shall render all reasonable assistance to the person for making the complaint in writing;

c) Provided further that the ICC may, for the reasons to be accorded in writing, extend the time limit not exceeding three months, if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the person from filing a complaint within the said period;

d) Friends, relatives, colleagues, co-students, psychologist, or any other associate of the victim may file the complaint in situations where the aggrieved person is unable to make a complaint on account of physical or mental in capacity or death;

Process of conducting inquiry:

a) The ICC shall upon receipt of the complaint, send one copy of the complaint to the respondent within a period of seven days of such receipt;

b) Upon receipt of the copy of the complaint, the respondent shall file his or her reply to the complaint along with the list of documents and names and addresses of the witnesses within a period of ten days;

c) The inquiry has to be completed within a period of ninety days from the receipt of the complaint. The inquiry report, with recommendation, if any, has to be submitted within ten days from the completion of the inquiry to the Executive Authority of the HEI. Copy of the findings or recommendations shall also be served on both parties to the complaint;

d) The Executive Authority of the HEI shall act on the recommendations of the committee within a period of thirty days from the receipt of the inquiry report, unless an appeal against the findings is filed within that time by either party;

e) An appeal against the findings or recommendations of the ICC may be filed by either party before the Executive Authority of the HEI within a period of thirty days from the date of the recommendations;

f) If the Executive Authority of the HEI decides not to act as per the recommendations of the ICC, then it shall record written reasons for the same to be conveyed to the ICC and both the parties to the proceedings. If on the other hand it is decided to act as per the recommendations of the ICC, then a show cause notice, answerable within ten days, shall be served on the party against whom action is decided to be taken. The Executive Authority of the HEI shall proceed only after considering the reply or hearing the aggrieved person;

g) The aggrieved party may seek conciliation in order to settle the matter. No monetary settlement should be made as a basis of conciliation. The HEI shall facilitate a conciliation process through ICC, as the case may be, once it sought. The resolution of the conflict to the full satisfaction of the aggrieved party wherever possible, is preferred to purely punitive intervention;

h) The identities of the aggrieved party or victim or witness or the offender shall not be made public or kept in the public domain especially during the process of the inquiry

Punishment and compensation

a) Anyone found guilty of sexual harassment shall be punished in accordance with the service rules of the HEI, if offender is an employee;

b) Where the respondent is a student, depending upon the severity of the offence, the HEI may

ii) withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library, auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarship, allowances and identity card

iii) suspend or restrict entry into the campus for a specific period;

iv) expel and strike off name from the rolls of the institution, including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants;

v) award reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and or, performance of community service;

c) The Aggrieved person is entitled to the payment of the compensation of the. The HEI shall issue direction for payment of the compensation recommended by the ICC accepted by the Executive Authority, which shall be recovered from the offender. The compensation payable shall be determined on the basis of

1) mental trauma, pain suffering and distress caused to the aggrieved person;

2) the loss of career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment;

3) the medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical, psychiatric treatment;

4) the income and status of the alleged perpetrator and victim and

5) the feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments

Action against frivolous complaint

To ensure that the provisions for the protection of employees and students from sexual harassment do not get misused, provisions against false or malicious complaints have to be made and publicized within all HEIs. If the ICC concludes that the allegations made were false, malicious or the complaint was made knowing to be untrue, or forged or misleading information has been provided during the inquiry, the complaint shall be liable to be punished as per the provisions of sub-regulations (1) of regulations 10, if the complainant happens to be an employee and as per sub-regulation (2).

However, the mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof will not attract against the complaint. Malicious intent on the part of the complaint shall not be established without an inquiry, in accordance with procedure prescribed, conducted before any action is recommended.

How to Find Us

Presidency University
86/1 College Street
Kolkata 700073
Contact details Presidency University Students Corner