The National Law School of India University (NLSIU) has responded to an open letter written by its alumni, questioning the action taken against two student facilitators, who had spoken openly about a sexual harassment case. The reputed institute, in its statement released on Thursday night, defended its decision it taking disciplinary action against two female students and claimed that it has strict zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
The alumni of NLSIU, in an open letter shared on June 22, had slammed the institute for punishing two girl students who raised voice against sexual harassment on Thursday. The alumni appreciated the courage of the students for choosing not to apologise and instead cough up the fine as directed by NLSIU in connection with the incident. The case being referred to is from April this year. A Bengaluru woman, in a series of tweets, accused a law student at NLSIU of âsexually, mentally and physicallyâ harassing her.
NLSIU in its statement said that the alumni open letter misrepresents the action taken by the university against students as a failure to take sexual harassment seriously.
The institute said that the student facilitators received correspondence from a person outside the university. The facilitators then circulated an anonymous statement on behalf of the complainant, detailing the alleged abuse, naming the accused student, and disclosing sensitive personal information. This was a violation of code.
The institute stated, "NLSIU has never prevented its students from discussing issues of sexual harassment. However, to use NLSIU digital resources to publicly name someone in a matter that would be prejudicial to that person's reputation is not conducive." The University has also assured that all avenues of complaint and redressal remain open. The statement stated that the student facilitators failed to adhere to the âNLSIUâs Principles of Conduct, 2002â and âNLSIUâs IT Policies.
What the alumni said
The alumni, about 179 of them, had expressed deep disappointment over NLSIU's decision against two female students, who had red flagged the case of sexual harassment by a male undergraduate student.
They had also expressed their concern over the handling of the issue. "It has come to knowledge that NLSIU initiated disciplinary proceedings against two female student facilitators appointed under its Code to Combat Sexual Harassment, for narrating a particular survivor's experience of sexual harassment by a current student of NLSIU," the letter stated.
The statement from the institute further said that the two facilitators narrated the incident over email and on a private Facebook group comprising students of the university. They did that upon being requested to do so by the survivor, who is not an NLSIU student. Notably, according to the institute, the question of a confidentiality breach does not arise as there were no ongoing proceedings.
For their act of sharing details regarding an instance of sexual harassment, NLSIU found the student facilitators guilty of major misconduct under its disciplinary rules. As a penalty it directed that they either issue a public apology or pay a significant monetary fine, the letter stated.
"As alumni of NLSIU, we commend the courageous and principled distance taken by the student facilitators. Further, we unequivocally condemn NLSIU finding that student facilitators are guilty of major misconduct," the alumni had stated.
"The proceedings against students are shrouded in secrecy and the principles of natural justice are not being followed which is deeply unfair. NLSIU must not attempt to silence the voice of survivors of sexual harassment and those who stand in solidarity with them,â the alumni stated.
The letter over the issue has stirred up a big controversy. According to sources, the accused is studying in the fourth year. Meanwhile, the victim had stated that the development was shocking. She also maintained that this will bear negative consequences on victims who want to come forward and speak up.
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