The Gujarat High Court took suo motu cognisance of a news report about two students of Gujarat National Law University been subjected to queerphobia and rape. It also slapped a notice on the varsity administration, directing it to confidentially record their statements and take necessary steps if the allegations, made on social media, were found to be genuine.
“We take suo motu cognisance of the report published since it raises an issue of grave concern which has direct impact on psychological and physical well- being of students,” a bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengedey said.
The allegations reported on September 22 involved the harassment and trauma allegedly faced by two GNLU students in two separate incidents. In one, a student reported suffering mental trauma due to harassment meted out to him only for being queer. In the other incident, a female student alleged rape by a batchmate. The news report also referred to the university’s defunct Internal Complaints Committee.
The bench recorded that “the response of the GNLU spokesperson is also reported, which specifies non-receipt of formal complaint by the students”. Stating that the university administration appeared to have taken no action for want of a formal complaint, the bench observed it did not seem to be the “correct approach” of dealing with such serious allegations.
The bench issued a notice to the registrar and the head of academic affairs and directed the university to “identify and record the statements of the students by maintaining total confidentiality”.
“The statement of the female student shall be recorded by a female member/professor of the university only. In case the allegations are found to be genuine and inspire confidence, then necessary steps as permissible under the law shall be taken immediately. Report shall be placed before this court by the next date of hearing. Names of members of ICC shall also be placed before this court,” the court directed.
“This court shall also be apprised of the norms or SOP or regulations adopted by the university for dealing with issues of harassment or ragging meted out to the students,” it added.