An assistant professor from the sociology department of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi has been suspended from his position following charges of sexual harassment against him made by one of his students. The professor, who is married, has been suspended for over a month now. He did not respond to a mail regarding the issue sent on his official email id. However, multiple sources confirmed the development.
The chairperson of sociology department, V. Sujatha, admitted that an inquiry was going on, but refused to say anything further.
Depositions in the case, which is now being heard by the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment, were made on Thursday by those known to the complainant. A three-member panel is looking into the issue and it includes one male member.
According to a source privy to the matter, the complainant, a foreign national, was the student of the professor from MPhil onwards. “She was invited by the professor to his quarters close to midnight where the incident happened,” said a source who knows the complainant. It is learnt that the matter has reached the vice-chancellor. However, JNU PRO Poonam Kudaisya refused to confirm or deny the same.
A source who knows the professor told this newspaper that the latter was under a restraint order and could not speak to the press. However, the source added: “He has been punished enough. His salary has been halved. Apart from financial loss, it is affecting his family life.” According to the source, whatever happened involved the consent of both parties. “It is humiliating for someone to not to be able to go to office, which is barely hundred metres from where he lives, to stay at home every day. Everyone who knows him is aware of what has happened. People from other universities are calling to enquire about the issue,” the source added.
A gender-activist based in the campus said that some of the professor’s supporters had taken up his case. “It happens with every case,” said the activist. According to the activist, the cases going through GSCASH had a better chance of being heard to their conclusion these days. “Till recently, the situation was such that girls were unable to complete their degrees if they complained against the teacher because it was difficult to carry on in the same centre. However, that has changed due to sustained efforts,” said the activist. Citing a famous case from before involving a senior professor, the activist added that the girl managed to complete her degree. “Another senior professor facing similar charges had his re-employment application denied which was significant considering his stature.”