Seeking that the Vice-Chancellor of National Law University and Judicial Academy Assam (NLUJAA), Professor (Dr.) J S Patil - who is facing investigation in an FIR on sexual harassment allegations - should temporarily step down during the pendency of the probe, the Student Bar Council of the University has written to the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, who happens to be the Chancellor of the University.
The SBC made the complaint to the Chief Justice Ajai Lamba alleging that the Vice-Chancellor has claimed that he has the 'backing' of the Chancellor.
"The Chancellor of NLUJAA also happens to be the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and the Vice-Chancellor claiming his 'backing' even before the matter has been investigated creates a dangerous precedent and provides fodder for the fear that the Vice-Chancellor may use his connections and acquaintances in the State Judiciary to steer clear of a fair trial", the SBC said in the letter.
"The statements given by the Vice-Chancellor may intimidate the complainant and also throw bad light on the position of the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court. The position of the Chief Justice is that of a neutral arbiter, in the eyes of the common man he is the fountain of justice. The statements given by the Vice-Chancellor are against the principles of natural justice and may severely malign the reputation of the Judiciary as a whole and thus should be condemned", added the letter.
The FIR against Dr.Patil has reportedly been filed under sections Sections 294(obscene acts in public), 354A(sexual harassment of women) and 509(Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), alleging that he had exposed his nudity to the neighbour's female family members.
Refuting the allegations, Dr.Patil told Legally India, "It is to tarnish the image of me and my University". He also claimed that he has filed a counter-case against the complainants.
Faculty also raise complaint
In the backdrop of this development, some faculty members have stated that "In the past, Prof. Patil has made sexist remarks and used sexually harassing language with the members of the faculty, both female and male".
On July 24, the faculty members made a complaint before the Assam State Commission for Women, seeking necessary intervention.
The issue started with a person making a post in the Facebook page of National Law University of Law and Judicial Academy Model United Nations alleging that Professor Patil had exposed his genitals to his mother and younger sister.
The faculty members stated in their complaint before ASCW that they had immediately invited the attention of the University Registrar to the said Facebook post, and urged him to take steps for a proper investigation.
"However, when we went to provide him with a draft as requested by him the next day, the Registrar imputed that members of the faculty, administration and students are conspiring against the Vice-Chancellor. We duly registered our protest against the unfounded allegations levelled against us by the Registrar to him immediately", their complaint before ASCW said.