JNU professor sacked for alleged sexual abuse of foreign student

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New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University on Tuesday terminated services of an assistant professor after a varsity inquiry committee found him guilty in a case of alleged sexual harassment filed by a foreign scholar pursuing research under him.

The decision was taken on Tuesday at an emergent meeting of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Executive Council (EC), the varsity’s statutory decision making body.

The complainant, a Bangladesh national, was pursuing research under the professor’s supervision in the varsity’s Department of Sociology.

“A research scholar from Bangladesh, working under supervision of the professor, had alleged that she was sexually abused by the professor. Subsequently, an inquiry was instituted by the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), the university watchdog for dealing with such issues,” official sources said.

“In its enquiry, the GSCASH found him guilty and recommended action against him, following which the EC meet was called to take a call on the issue. The EC decided to terminate his services with immediate effect,” they added.

Meanwhile, repeated calls and text messages to the professor for his comments on the issue went unanswered.

The EC’s decision comes at a time, when JNU is under criticism over the maximum number of sexual abuse cases reported from all the higher education institutes in the country. Only last week, Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani had informed the Lok Sabha that 25 cases of sexual harassment were reported from JNU in 2013-2014, the highest among 104 higher education institutions from where such matters were reported, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC) data.

Last month, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal had also said that as much as 50 percent of the 101 sexual harassment complaints filed in 16 educational institutions in the national capital since 2013 were from JNU.

The varsity had recently notified its new sexual harassment policy which also includes a penalty provision for false complaints filed before the probe panel.

GSCASH was instituted by the university in 1999 under the Vishaka guidelines of the Supreme Court. The panel has representatives from JNU Students Union (JNUSU), JNU Officers’ Association (JNUOA), hostel wardens, faculty and administrative staff.

However, a group of JNU teachers had last month questioned the working of GSCASH, alleging that its “processes are perverted”.

Demanding that JNU be a “gender-sensitive and gender-just” campus, a group of teachers has written an open letter to the varsity administration seeking its intervention to improve the functioning of GSCASH.

The teachers had also alleged that the confidentiality with regard to complaints was being “blatantly violated”, leading to defaming the complainants and the putting their integrity on “public trial”.

The committee had come out with a clarification saying that “it engages and encourages the community to file such cases in a confidential manner, without engaging unwanted attention and speculation at the same time”.

(With PTI inputs)

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