Taking cognizance of incidents where school authorities delay or shield accused in sexual harassment cases involving students, the Himachal Pradesh government has issued strict directions to all educational institutions to ensure timely action.

Officials said it has been observed that there has been an increase in the number of cases of sexual harassment and sexual abuse or molestation of students in educational Institutions.

In some cases, it has been seen that the head of the educational institution do not take the required action against the offenders. Further, it has also come to the notice of the government that some employees who are involved in molestation of girl students are either being shielded or protected by not taking action.

“Whereas, a criminal case must be registered against such employees and the matter should be immediately brought to the notice of the higher authorities to initiate departmental or disciplinary proceedings against such employees,” the official said.

The illegal decision of school authorities in such cases literally allows and results in repetition of such incidents again and again.

“The safety and security of the children in the schools is the top most priority and those who are found guilty of shielding or delaying action against the offenders will not be spared,” Joint Director of Higher Education Sonia Thakur said.

Thakur said directions have been issued to all the heads of schools to ensure that Sexual Harassment Committee in every institution work actively as per the standing orders conveyed by this Directorate from time to time.

“The school authorities have also been directed to send a monthly report on the details of complaints of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, molestation, rape received and action taken on such complaints,” she said, adding the report must sent to directorate by 5th of every month.

In addition, they have been directed to bring such incidents to the notice of the department immediately and also report the matter to the local police.

They should also get the case registered under POCSO Act. The Education Department has also taken cognisance of students being pressurised to change their statements or retract from their complaint before the police.