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Gujarat HC takes suo motu cognisance of news report about rape incident, harassment of queer student at GNLU

The division bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengdey observed that the report 'raises an issue of grave concern which has a direct impact on the psychological and physical wellbeing of students,' and issued a notice to the university registrar and head of academic affairs.
Last Updated : 25 September 2023, 10:00 IST

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The Gujarat High Court on Monday took suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report about two incidents at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) in Gandhinagar involving the harassment of a male student for being queer and the rape of a student by her batchmate.

The division bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengdey observed that the report 'raises an issue of grave concern which has a direct impact on the psychological and physical wellbeing of students,' and issued a notice to the university registrar and head of academic affairs.

The news report refers to a defunct internal complaint committee (ICC) of the university, and a statement by its spokesperson specifying non-receipt of formal complaint by the students.

"The report does not suggest any action taken by the administration for want of formal complaint, which in our opinion would not be a correct approach," it noted.

The court directed the university to identify the students and record their statements while maintaining total confidentiality.

The statement of the female student shall be recorded by a female member or professor of the university only, it said.

In case the allegations are found to be genuine and inspire confidence, necessary steps as permissible under the law shall be taken immediately, it said.

"The report shall be placed before the court on the next date of hearing. The names of members of the ICC shall also be placed before this court," it stated in the order.

The court also asked to be apprised of the norms or standard procedure or regulation adopted by the university in dealing with the issue of harassment or ragging meted out to the students.

The incident, as reported in the newspaper dated September 22, relates to the ordeal faced by two students of GNLU, the court noted.

The male student 'has suffered mental trauma due to the harassment meted out to him only for the reason of him being a queer, and the other female student has levelled the allegation of rape by a batchmate,' it said.

The report also refers to the defunct ICC, and the response of the GNLU spokesperson specifies the non-receipt of a formal complaint by the students, the court said.

"We take suo motu cognisance of the report published on September 22, since it raises an issue of grave concern which has a direct impact on the psychological and physical wellbeing of students," the court said.

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Published 25 September 2023, 10:00 IST

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