Harassment Policy

1. POLICY STATEMENT

The College has a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of harassment. It constitutes an offence. We recognize that as an academic and free community, subject to compliance of applicable laws, we must uphold our fundamental commitments to academic freedom along with freedom of expression and association. The College maintains an environment in which students and teaching and non-teaching staff can engage in free enquiry and open discussion of all issues without intimidation and harassmentof others.

2. WHAT IS HARASSMENT?

Harassment is any unwelcome advance, request or signal. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering  with an individual’s academic or work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or working environment.

Harassment may be overt or subtle, and can range from intimidating visual signals or gestures to verbal abuse to physical contact, persistent and unwelcome flirting.

3. TYPES OF HARASSMENTS
  • Bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and / or sexual harassment.
  • Falsifying a complaint or evidence leading to defamation of character.
  • Lying / deliberately misleading the investigation process.
  • Asking students to visit personal offices after office hours or meet out of the College premises with the promise of improvement in grades or to discuss academics.
  • Intimation and providing material to print or social media in order to tarnish the reputation (character assassination) of faculty / staff / student / employer.
  • Vulgar jokes, gossip, written or oral references to obscenity and unwelcome staring, whistling, brushing against the body, suggestive or insulting comments.
  • Dressing which is provocative and culturally inappropriate.
  • Students visiting teacher in his / her office unnecessarily and for long hours and initiating intimacy through letters, messages and emails for benefits. 
  • Support staff asking students to pay for doing their official work.
  • Threatening students by using forge / fake documents and pictures to blackmail them into compliance.
  • Anonymous letters / pamphlets / e-mails / text messages defaming or assassinating character of employees / teachers / students.
  • Harassment of students by students of any sort.
  • Active assistance to a bully / harasser before, during or after the incident in question.
  • Failure to disclose information about the offense during an ongoing investigation. 
4. JURISDICTION

This policy applies to actions by students, faculty, staff and all other members of the College, or third parties (such as service providers, visitors etc.) to those with whom the College does business and to any person on the College’s property (including contractors who are involved in any business,
construction or services etc.). The College will inform all external agencies, who operate on the College’s campus, about this policy. 

Complaint can be made for any alleged violation of this policy.

5. FALSE ALLEGATION

Allegations of harassment made out of malice or intent to hurt the reputation of the persons against whom the complaint is filed will be dealt with as serious offence. A charge which is intentionally dishonest or made in willful disregard of the truth, and to malign or damage the reputation, however, will subject the complainant (student, staff or faculty) to severe disciplinary action.

6. INFORMAL RESOLUTION WITHOUT A WRITTEN COMPLAINT

The primary objective of resolution is to stop the offending behavior. To this end, it is important that complaints be resolved through informal means. No third party will be informed of the identity of the respondent unless and until the respondent is informed of the complaint and given an opportunity to respond and that too if inquiry warrants.

After attempting ‘Informal Resolution without a Written Complaint’, the complainant may decide to take no further action or to proceed with the formulation of a written complaint.

7. PENALTIES / SANCTIONS AND REMEDIES

Following penalties, singly or in combination, may be imposed upon any respondent:

Teaching / Non-Teaching Staff

  1. Oral or written reprimand.
  2. Inclusion of the decision in a specified personnel file of the respondent.
  3. Exclusion of the respondent from a designated portion(s) of the College’s buildings or
    spaces, or from one or more designated College’s activities, where such penalty is appropriate
    to the offence and where the penalty does not prevent the respondent from carrying out her/his
    professional duties.
  4. The imposition of a fine or imposition of conditions as decided by the Tribunal.
  5. Recommendation for suspension of the respondent without pay.
  6. Recommendation for dismissal.
  7. Others, as deemed appropriate.


Student

  1. Oral or written reprimand.
  2. Inclusion of the decision in a personal file of the respondent, for a specified period.
  3. Prohibition of the respondent from attendance in a course, a programme, or a teaching unit, for a certain period.
  4. Cancellation of admission.
  5. Others, as deemed appropriate
8. DESIGNATED RESOURCES

The College, shall designate at least two members (the “focal person”), at least one of whom shall be a woman, to offer support and immediate assistance to those who have experienced harassment. 

The College shall constitute the Harassment Inquiry Committee (HIC) to investigate and adjudicate any allegations of prohibited conduct. Those who have experienced harassment may also contact members of the HIC for support and advice.

9. HARRASSMENT INQUIRY COMMITTEE – TORs

The Harassment Inquiry Committee (the “HIC”) shall be responsible for the investigation and adjudication of any complaint received in connection with the violation of this policy.

  1. Structure:

    The HIC shall be constituted in the following manner:

    The HIC shall consist of three members, at least one of whom shall be a woman and one of the member shall be a member of the senior management of the College.

    All members of the HIC shall be employees of the College and will be appointed, by the Managing Committee after taking nominations by the Principal and ED – CET.

    In case a complaint is made against one of the members of the HIC, that member shall be replaced by another (impartial member) for that particular case.

  2. Criteria:
    Members of the HIC shall be individuals who are known for being principled, credible, fair, gender-sensitive and have a strong character (someone who will not change their decision due to pressure from friends, colleagues or seniors). They shall have not conflict of interest in particular cases, and shall be impartial and unbiased.

  3. Terms of HIC:
    Members of the HIC shall be appointed for a term of two years (shorter terms may be required occasionally to fill vacancies). No member shall serve for more than two consecutive terms. Former members will be eligible for reappointment after a lapse of two years.

  4. Chairman:
    One of the members of the HIC shall be appointed as the Chair by the College, whose duties shall include, but are not limited to: maintaining order during hearings, answering procedural questions, granting or denying adjournments, maintaining proper documentation of the proceedings, which shall constitute the official record and reporting recommendations of the HIC to the College. All these duties shall be undertaken in consultation with the HIC members.

  5. Training:
    The College shall endeavor to provide training to members of the HIC in investigation and adjudication of conduct prohibited under this policy.

  6. A staff member shall be appointed to assist the HIC. This works shall include responsibilities such as organizing meetings, acting as a liaison between the HIC and the other parties involved, record keeping, making and updating a database to track the processing of complaints, and ensuring appropriate awareness raising about the issue of harassment at College.

10. COMPLAINTS AND REPORTING

A complaint may be lodged by any person who has experienced harassment, with either the Focal Person or with any member of the HIC.

In cases in which the conduct in question relates to any member of the Harassment Committee, the affected person shall also have an option to submit a complaint to the Chairman Managing Commitee.

In the event that a complainant is reluctant to contact the Focal Persons or any members of the HIC, the complainant may contact a Colleague, Instructor, Department Head or the Coordinator. It will be the responsibility of the individual contacted to report the case to the HIC without identifying either the complainant or the alleged offender and to ask for advice on procedure and policy from them to effect solution, if a solution is necessary.

Complainants shall be encouraged to submit complaints promptly. An extension of up to 02 months may be granted by the Focal Persons or the HIC upon written request stating the reasons for the delay in submitting the complaint.

All members of the College are encouraged to report any instances of harassment that they may have observed to the Focal Persons or the HIC. For the purposes of safeguarding the campus, the College has an obligation to investigate material violations of this policy even in the event that a formal complaint has not been filed.

As soon as a complaint or report is received by one of the designated resources, it shall be shared by him or her (within a period of 24 hours) with all Focal Persons and members of the HIC for further action.

For minor violations, complainants may opt to make an informal complaint to either the Focal Person or the HIC. The primary objective of informal resolution mechanism is to take preventative action, so that minor violations are detected early and appropriate warning is given to the accused to stop the offending behavior before it reaches a higher degree of seriousness. If the incident reported through this mechanism constitutes prohibited conduct, the HIC shall deal with the complaint accordingly.

11. INTERIM MEASURES AND SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS

As soon as a complaint or report is received by designated resources or any member of the College, depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence, the Focal Persons shall take appropriate steps to provide interim measures that may be requested by the affected persons or as otherwise may be deemed appropriate. If the affected person is not satisfied with the measures taken, he or she may contact any member of the HIC for necessary action. Interim measures include but are not limited to:

  1. Adjustment in class or examination schedules, including for the purposes of attending hearings.
  2. Access to counselling services or other appropriate medical assistance.
  3. Change in the work assignments.
  4. Arrangement for any assessments or evaluations to be made by a neutral person.
  5. Adjustment to class schedule, including withdrawal from course or changing the section.
  6. Notifying the campus security officials (or law enforcement in case of serious violations) regarding the violation.
  7. Impositions of the College order designed to prohibit contact or communication between certain persons.
  8. Change of the housing arrangement of certain persons or
  9. Any other measures that may be deemed appropriate.
12. INVESTIGATION AND ADJUDICATION

All complaints alleging Sexual Harassment shall be forwarded to the HIC within 24 hours of being received by the Focal Persons or any other office of the College.

As soon as is reasonably practicable after receiving a complaint, the HIC shall determine whether the alleged conduct in the complaint meets the criteria set forth in Section 4 (Jurisdiction) of this policy. If it is determined by a majority of the members of the HIC that the alleged conduct meets the aforementioned criteria, a formal investigation shall be initiated.

In the absence of a formal complaint, if a serious violation of this policy is reported to the HIC, or a series of allegations against the same person are received, the HIC may determine by majority vote to initiate proceedings after notifying the College.

After initiating the investigation, and not later than three days of the receipt of a written complaint, the HIC shall:

  1. Communicate to the accused the charges and statement of allegations leveled against him/her, the formal written receipt of which will be given.
  2. Require the accused within seven days from the day the charge is communicated to him/her to submit a written defense and on his/her failure to do so without reasonable cause, the HIC shall proceed ex-parte; and
  3. Enquire into the charge and may acquire and examine such oral or documentary evidence in support of the charge or in defense of the accused as the HIC may consider necessary (including by summoning potential witnesses) and each party shall be entitled to cross-examine the witnesses against him/her.

The following rules shall be applicable to the hearings conducted by the HIC:

  1. All hearings shall be closed hearings.
  2. The HIC will hear statements from the complainant(s) and respondent(s), the witnesses if any (as required) and study any other documents and/or evidence as presented by the relevant parties or collected in the process of conducting inquiry.
  3. The HIC shall have discretion to limit testimony and questioning of witnesses to those matters it considers relevant to the disposition of the case.
  4. The Chair of the HIC shall have the power to compel a witness to attend, and the complainant(s) and/or respondent(s) may request the Chair’s aid in this regard.
  5. The complainant and the respondent may at any stage of any of the procedures outlined in this policy be represented and or accompanied by another person of her/his choice.
  6. The HIC shall have the right to acquire any relevant piece of evidence to further their understanding of the case and the relevant parties, witnesses and administration are required to provide them with this documentation and/or evidence to facilitate the investigation.
  7. Objective documentation of the proceedings of the HIC shall be maintained where high confidentiality of the records and other such material shall be upheld at all times.
  8. The respondent shall be allowed to cross question the complainant and witnesses unless the HIC decides otherwise.
  9. Where any procedural matter is not dealt with in this policy, the HIC may, guided by the principles of fairness, establish any appropriate procedure.

Members of the College have an obligation to cooperate in an investigation, and refusal to cooperate may result in disciplinary action. There may be circumstances in which the complainant may wish to limit their participation in the proceedings. The complainant shall not be subject to discipline, but the HIC may be obligated to proceed with the investigation.

Following the formal hearing, the members of the HIC shall deliberate and determine the validity of the complaint based on the totality of the circumstances. The presence or absence of evidence cannot always be the sole criteria on which a judgment can be made. The credibility of statements and context
must be kept in mind during the deliberations. The HIC members will reach a decision unanimously or by a majority after the deliberations. Where the complaint is found to be valid, the HIC will recommend an appropriate penalty.

The HIC shall complete the inquiry and recommend its final decision within a period of 30 days. It shall then send its recommendations to the Managing Committee / CET giving its findings in writing by recording reasons thereof (which shall include any note of dissent) for endorsement and action.
Decision of the Inquiry shall be implemented within 15 days.

13. CONFIDENTIALITY

Confidentiality shall be enjoined on the Focal Persons, the HIC and all others involved in the process. This does not preclude the reasonable and discreet disclosure of information in order to elicit the facts of the case, or to implement and monitor properly the terms of any decision.

The Focal Persons, members of the HIC and their support staff shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action for inappropriate breaches of confidentiality on their part.

All notes and records arising in connection with an investigation shall be maintained in a confidential file at the College.

14. PENALTIES
Students as a Respondent:

In cases in which the respondent is a student, the following sanctions may be imposed:

In case of minor violations, the student may be issued a warning or reprimand. These shall be considered when adjudicating future violations.
In case of more serious violations, formal sanctions like withholding of academic certificates / marks sheet for a period of time, suspension or expulsion may be imposed.

The following may be added to any of the penalties listed above:

Campus service; exclusion of the respondent from a designated portion(s) of buildings or grounds, or from one or more designated activities, (provided such penalty is appropriate to the offence and where the penalty does not prevent the respondent from pursuing her/his studies); attending educational program.

Faculty & Staff as a Respondent: 

In cases in which the respondent is a member of the faculty, researcher or employee/staff of the College, the following sanctions may be imposed (individually or in combination), keeping in view the terms of the applicable employment policies:

  1. Oral or written reprimand;
  2. Counselling or training;
  3. Inclusion of the decision in a specified personnel file(s) of the respondent; with a possible impact on promotions and other benefits.
  4. Exclusion of the respondent from a designated portion(s) of buildings or grounds, or form one or more designated activities, where such penalty is appropriate to the offense and where the penalty does not prevent the respondent from carrying out his/her professional duties.
  5. The imposition of a fine.
  6. Recommendation for suspension of the respondent without pay
  7. Recommendation that dismissal proceedings be commenced or other sanctions, as deemed appropriate, in accordance with the terms of the employment policies.
15. RIGHT OF APPEAL

Both the complainant and the respondent shall have a right to appeal the decision of the HIC within a period of 30 days from the date of notification of the decision.

There shall be a three-member appellate body (the “Appellate Body”) appointed by the Managing Committee that shall include at least one senior member of the College administration and at least one of the members of which shall be a woman. No member of the HIC shall concurrently be a member of the Appellate Body.

Appeal to the Appellate Body against the decision of the HIC can be filed on the following grounds:

  1. The alleged conduct does or does not fall within the scope of this policy.
  2. The HIC reached a decision without consideration of material information.
  3. The imposed penalty is unfair because it is disproportionate or materially different from that imposed for similar misconduct or
  4. The adjudication process followed by the HIC was procedurally unfair.

In order to reach its decision, the Appellate Body may communicate with the parties, the members of the HIC or other members of the College community as it deems fit.

The Appellate Body may, on consideration of the appeal and any other relevant material, confirm, set aside, vary or modify the decision within 30 days in respect of which such appeal is made, and shall communicate the decision to both the parties, the College and the HIC.

16. MALA FIDE ALLEGATION

False allegations of harassment made out of malice or intent to hurt the reputation of the persons against whom the complaint is filed are to be dealt with as serious offences. Making mala fide allegation of harassment knowing it to be false, whether in a formal or informal context, is a serious offense under this policy.

In the event that the HIC determines that a false allegation is made in the complaint with mala fide intent, it may recommend appropriate action against the complainant by sending its findings to the College (by recording reasons thereof and including any note of dissent) for endorsement and action. In cases in which the conduct falls within the scope, the HIC may recommend the handing over of such cases to the Ombudsperson for taking further action against the complainant who made the false allegation with mala fide intent.

17. PROTECTION AGAINST REPRISAL

College shall not allow reprisal or threats of reprisal against any member of the College who makes use of this policy (formally or informally). College shall also prohibit such threats or actions against anyone who participates (e.g. testifies, assists, etc.) in proceedings held under its jurisdiction.

Retaliation or any other action against complainant of harassment is to be taken seriously under the provisions of this policy. All allegations of retaliation would be investigated formally under the purview of this policy, and if substantiated, would result in appropriate disciplinary action