Gujarat: Report Filed in HC Reveals NLU Students Faced ‘Rape’ While Admin Remained Mute Spectator

Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha P. Mayee voiced grave concerns about the sealed cover report, calling it “scary”.
Gujarat National Law University (GLNU)
Gujarat National Law University (GLNU)

New Delhi: Schools and colleges, which are supposed to be safe spaces for students, are increasingly emerging as the cause of their trauma. Many students at prestigious Gujarat National Law University (GLNU) have recently alleged that they have faced sexual abuse and that the administration, instead of supporting them, tried to brush the incidents under the carpet. As a result, the Gujarat High Court had to come to their rescue.

The High Court on February 28 rebuked the varsity administration for its alleged inaction and purportedly suppressing serious allegations leveled by two students with regard to “queerphobia” and “rape” within the university premises.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha P. Mayee received a report in a sealed cover, which the court referred to as “really scary”.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is being heard by the Bench suo motu on the basis of a media report dated September 22, 2023. The court asserted that the GNLU administration had intentionally concealed vital information, painting a disturbing picture of the entire incident.

Going beyond the specific case at hand, the court observed that this suppression was not an isolated occurrence.

According to the committee’s report, similar incidents had occurred on the GNLU campus earlier as well. This revelation led the court to emphasize the need for a comprehensive investigation, stating that the situation at GNLU, including the conduct of its faculty members, demanded a high-level inquiry to uncover the truth.

The bench exclaimed, “Incidents of molestation, rape, discrimination, homophobia, favouritism, suppression of voices, lack of Internal Complaint Committee are reported...and then this is an NLU!”

Referring to the varsity’s administration behaviour, the court said, “Its registrar filed an affidavit before us, saying nothing happened and asked us to close the matter. He had the audacity to say this before us when the court was seized with the matter.”

“It was so difficult for the students of the GNLU to speak up and they are students of law. If the voices of law students are suppressed, who will speak in the country?” asked the bench.

“They are supposed to help others...The victim stated that a politically influential person had been involved in suppressing the incident before the police...How can we assume that the students are stating wrong, why would they do it? They have no personal grudges against anyone.”

“I am most concerned about law students...they are the protector of the law...if this is happening in a law college then we cannot show our faces to anyone and all these lectures,” said the court.

Furthermore, the court directed the state’s Advocate General, Kamal Trivedi, to clarify to the bench who holds the authority to take action based on the fact-finding committee’s report.

In its spoken observations, the court also drew attention to allegations against a male faculty member within the university. It emphasized that the GNLU administration’s adversarial stance in response to Instagram posts containing accusations of queerphobia and rape.

Netizens, especially the law students, lauded the court to bring out the secret to the world.

Shivangi, a law student, took to X (formally Twitter) to say how this is the reality for most of the law schools. “I doubt they [GNLU] ever planned to protect their students anyway. It takes so much courage to go against your institution and the students of GNLU are honestly so brave for it. People would be so much more horrified when they find out this is the very reality of almost all NLUs,” she wrote.

An anonymous law student stated, “It is so rare to see a court care about something that matters. This is one of the few moments where it does. Extremely proud of the GNLU students who stuck up for the fight.”

Karmanye Thadani, an author and a lawyer, took to social media to say, “I am glad the GNLU students are being supported in the good fight by the Gujarat High Court! As a GNLU alum who has good relations with many in the admin and faculty, would urge for listening and healing!”

When The Mooknayak tried to reach out to a few students of the GNLU, especially the ones belonging to the queer community, it was revealed that most of them felt scared and were dealing with their share of trauma. As a result, they did not feel safe to talk about the situation.

We have also reached out to the Director Prof. (Dr.) S. Shanthakumar and Registrar Dr. Jagadeesh Chandra T. G to enquire about any steps taken by the administration to help the students, but have not received any statement yet.

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