UGC (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN EMPLOYEES AND STUDENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS) REGULATION, 2015
The University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015 was issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (University Grant Commission) on May 2, 2016. In exercise of the powers provided by clause (g) of sub-section (1) of Section 26 and sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (3 of 1956), the Regulation of 2015 was established, which shall apply to all higher educational institutions in India. Put simply, the Regulation outlines higher educational institutions’ duties in terms of preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. As the UGC Regulations are statutory in character, they apply to all universities and institutions across the nation. The institutions can use a variety of measures to ensure that students are aware of the redress mechanism as well as the appropriate people to contact and report problems. Reporting occurrences of sexual harassment can be done in a variety of ways such as posting notices on bulletin boards, establishing complaint boxes in easily accessible areas across the campus, posting anti-sexual harassment rules on the college website, and emailing students and workers. This article provides an overview of this Regulation and the possible future it holds in a nation like India where sexual harassment has become common parlance.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE REGULATION OF 2015
The UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of women employees and students in Higher Education Institutions) Regulation, 2015 is a statute spread over twelve provisions. Regulation 2 (b) of the aforementioned statute clarifies that the term ‘Act’ with respect to the 2015 Regulation would mean the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Therefore, some of the definitions provided under Regulation 2 of the 2015 Regulation stand similar to the Act of 2013. The 2015 Regulation introduces a list of new terms with respect to its purpose which are:
RESPONSIBILITIES OF HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES
Regulation 3 of the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of women employees and students in Higher Education Institutions) Regulation, 2015 lays down an elaborate list of responsibilities for the higher educational institutions to abide by.
The responsibilities that are provided specifically to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) have been embedded in Regulation 5 of the 2015 Regulation.
Regulation 6 read with Regulation 8 of the 2015 Regulation states that it is the obligation of the higher education institutions to provide all necessary facilities to the ICC in order to smoothen the process of investigation that the latter will be carried out expeditiously.
Provisions against false or malicious complaints must be made and publicized within all Higher Education Institutions under Regulation 7 of the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, to ensure that the provisions for the protection of employees and students from sexual harassment are not misused.
Regulation 10 of the 2015 Regulation lists down the deterrents to be imposed on anyone found guilty of sexual harassment.
Regulation 12 of the 2015 Regulation that deals with consequences of non-compliance of the provisions laid down by the Regulation of 2015, holds immense importance as it will be ensuring check and balance on the higher educational institutions’ actions towards curbing sexual harassment of women employees and students in their respective territories.