The Delhi High Court recently came to the rescue of a 75-year-old Delhi University (DU) Professor, who had challenged an order passed by DU’s Executive Council in March, 2002 whereby he was disengaged from the services of the University after sexual harassment charges had emerged against him.
While holding that the enquiry against Prof. S.P. Narang had violated principles of natural justice, Justice V. Kameswar Rao refused to remand the matter back to the enquiry committee. This was in view of Prof. Narang’s age, and that fact that he agreed to not press monetary relief for the remainder of his term, contending that he had petitioned the Court only to remove the stigma attached to his reputation due to the impugned order.
Justice Rao opined, “…this Court on a consideration of these submissions, is of the view noting the age of the petitioner, who is said to be of 75 years, the Researchers also have equally aged, a remand for fresh enquiry from the stage of framing of charges; allowing cross examination of the witnesses would be an embarrassment for the parties at this stage of their life, that apart, the process to complete the enquiry may take some time and if an order is passed against the petitioner, the same can be subject matter of a challenge which may take further time for a decision; it shall be appropriate, if the matter is put at rest, but with limited relief to the petitioner.”
Mr. Narang was employed as a Sanskrit lecturer with the University in 1970, and had since been elevated to the post of the Head of the Department. His term was, however, cut short after allegations of sexual harassment had emerged against him, and an enquiry had found him guilty.
Mr. Narang had now alleged non-supply of enquiry report and denial of opportunity to the Petitioner for a verbal cross-examination of the complainants.
The Court agreed with such contentions, and noted, “That apart non-supply of the copy of the report of the Enquiry Committee to enable the petitioner make representation is also an infirmity which surely reflects the denial of reasonable opportunity to the petitioner, which vitiate the conclusion of the Enquiry Committee and the impugned order herein.”
It, thereafter, set aside the enquiry, and ruled that Prof. Narang, who would have been 60 years old at the time of the enquiry, and would have retired at 62, shall not be entitled to any arrears for the period of two years. He was, however, held to be entitled to the retiral benefits, which were directed to be computed afresh. Such arrears are to be released to him within three months.