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India: Is University admin protecting a ’serial harrasser’ Prof in New Delhi?

Monday 19 March 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/serial-harasser-professor-being-safeguarded-jnu-admin?utm_source=winkemail

‘Serial Harasser’ professor being safeguarded by JNU Admin?

Written by Sushmita

Published on: March 17, 2018

Looks like multiple allegations of sexual harassment is not a valid enough reason for the JNU administration to suspend a professor who has been charged with offences which are non-bailable in nature.

JNU

Students in JNU have been in a constant tussle with the administration since the past three days over the demand of suspension of Professor Atul Johari who has been charged with cases of sexual harassment and wrongful gestures by several women students. Seven women filed an FIR on Thursday while two filed on Friday.

The Delhi police registered cases against him on Friday but did not make any arrests. Meanwhile it was reported that Prof. Johari has “tendered his resignation”

The students say that ideally the administration should have suspended the professor right away but they did not do it. Instead, as per the students, they confined six of the girls in a room with the acting VC and tried to persuade them to take back their cases or raise it within the university ICC.

On the night of March 16, the students called for a March to Vasant Kunj thana to demand that police immediately arrest him. However, police refused to do anything before Monday.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-West) Milind Dumbere said that a case was registered under Section 354 (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

Professor or a Serial Harasser?

The series of harassment came to light when a 26 year old research scholar “went missing” from the campus and a missing report was filed by the father. The report was later withdrawn as she informed her parents about her whereabouts. Purportedly, in an email that she sent him, she called him “characterless” and that he did not have “manners to talk to girls”

Once this became public, several students from the School of Life Sciences (SLS), who had been working in Prof Johri’s lab, came forward to share stories of how he is a serial offender. Allegedly, the professor often “made sexually coloured remarks, openly demanded sex and commented on the bodies of almost of every woman. If a woman objected, he held a grudge against her and threatened to ruin her research career”

The JNU administration, though, did not show any interest in suspending the professor immediately. Moreover, students also reported that they were beaten up while they were protesting outside police station in the night.

This incident has brought back the debates of the replacement of the GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment) by ICC (Internal Complaints Committee)

JNU

GSCASH vs. ICC debate

GSCASH, a body constituted by JNU in 1999 by the recommendations of the Working Groupd on Sexual Harassment in 1997. The Rules and Procedures were approved by JNU Executiev Council in 2001. The Committee implemented the Jawaharlal Nehru University Policy Against Sexual Harassment (1999) as also the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India, in its ruling on the Writ Petition (Criminal) Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (1997) on the prevention and deterrence of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Afterwards, it also implemented modifications as per the newer developments such as SAKSHAM guideline by UGC in 2013. Its rules applied to all students and teaching and non-teaching staff. By its nature the GSCASH was more democratic as it had elected representatives.

However, the GSCASH was replaced by the ICC in its 269th Executive Council meeting held on September 18 2017 and ICC, which was supposed to have members nominated by the administration, was formed.

Students’ demands

In the recent incident, students have alleged that they don’t have any faith in the working of ICC and have continued their protest. Students also allege that members in ICC are close acquaintances of Prof Johari and are more interested in giving clean chit to the professor than taking any action against him as they have been publicising that he has “tendered his resignation” Also, as per the students, “. *His resignation is not from his job in JNU which means he will still be allowed to take lectures and supervise lab students. This will mean that he will potentially be able to be in physical communication with the complainants since they are from his own department.” Also, reportedly, Prof Johari had supported the very controversial mandatory attendance rule newly introduced by the JNU administration.

Students believed that this is once again completely antithetical to gender justice and cases of sexual harassment where the accused is issued a restraint order to not contact the complainant any cost and this can be ensured when he is suspended from his administrative as well as academic duties.
Students also called for a protest this afternoon outside acting VC Chinatamani Patra’s house and gathered there in large numbers

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