Plea Against Report Exonerating JNU Prof Of Sexual Harassment, HC Seeks Varsity Reply
The Delhi High Court Friday sought JNU's response on a plea challenging the clean chit given by its Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to one of its professors accused of sexually harassing several women students.
Justice Suresh Kait issued notice to the university and the professor in question and sought their replies to the plea filed by the women, who have sought his suspension and removal from the campus.
The ICC report of July 23 last year followed the high court's May 29 direction to the committee to find out whether a prima facie case of misconduct was made out against the professor, Atul Johri, to suspend him from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The May 29 order had come on an earlier plea moved by the complainants, represented by advocate Vrinda Grover, seeking suspension of the professor against whom eight FIRs have been lodged alleging sexual harassment.
Justice Kait, on Friday, observed that since ICC has filed its report pursuant to the court's May 29, 2018 order, nothing survived in the earlier petition and it was disposed of.
In the fresh petition, which the court is expected to hear next on May 3, the women have sought setting aside of the ICC report on the ground that it contravened the scope and terms laid down by the high court in its May 29, 2018 direction.
Grover argued that the high court had in its order directed the ICC to only examine if there was a prima facie case of misconduct to suspend the professor and the committee could not have inquired into the sexual harassment allegations as the complainant women had not raised that issue.
She contended that unless the women seek an inquiry in writing, the ICC could not have gone into it.
"The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Impugned Report are on the face of it perverse, contradicted by material independent evidence, vitiated by mala fides and bias. The Report also falls foul of the binding principles of natural justice in arriving at findings and recommendations," the petition has said.
The contentions were opposed by the respective lawyers for JNU and the professor who argued that the ICC has found the complaints of sexual harassment made by the women to be "malicious" and that they had allegedly motivated and instigated others to file such complaints.
The professor's lawyer also argued that the women have "taken revenge" against him for being a "tough taskmaster".
The contentions of JNU and the professor were opposed by Grover who argued that the varsity was required to provide a safe working environment for the women who had lodged the FIRs, but it was not doing so.
She also told the court that the FIRs were lodged in March last year, but till date no charge sheet has been filed in the matter by the police.