#MeToo: DU professor accused of sexual harassment; VC Tyagi stalls his removal

The students of DU’s Bharati College are up in arms over the delay in implementing the action against Prof Amit Kumar, who has been found guilty of sexual harassment by the college’s ICC

DU Express
DU Express

Ashlin Mathew

The students of Delhi University's Bharati College are up in arms over the delay in implementing the action against Assistant Professor Amit Kumar recommended by the Internal Complaints Committee. The committee in its report, which was submitted in August, had held the professor guilty of sexual harassment.

In February 2018, a third-year student had complained to the Delhi University authorities that the professor sent lewd messages to her. In the letter to the VC, the student alleged that she used to get objectionable messages and phone calls from the professor, following which she decided to confront him. She also submitted a video in which she is seen confronting the professor.

The student said that she had not lodged a complaint because he “begged” her saying that her complaint would end his career. This incident had occurred last year and following the complaint, the assistant professor was sent on leave. Soon, the college authorities got complaints against Amit Kumar from three other students with message evidence pointing towards his sexual predatory behaviour.

Kumar, who was an assistant professor of Political Science, would send messages on WhatsApp asking girls to hug and kiss him and would call at inappropriate hours.

Earlier this week, at least 200 students had protested the alleged delay by the college Governing Body in taking action on the ICC's recommendations in the case. The College’s ICC is presided over by Rakhi Jain and has 10 members. It includes three student representatives and one external member.

The Internal Complaints Committee had found that Amit Kumar, who is a member of the RSS-backed National Democratic Teachers' Front, had used his position of power to target vulnerable young girls to satisfy his personal inclinations. “What the Committee also finds alarming is that the respondent (Amit Kumar) is not remorseful for has conduct, rather he did not hesitate to justify his conduct by pleading that the complainants had misunderstood him. In the absence of any remorse, the chances of reform are non-existent,” said the Committee in its report.

The Committee had unanimously recommended compulsory retirement for the respondent. “Further, the Committee recommends that the respondent shall pay a sum of Rs 10,000 to each of the complainants,” stated the Committee in its report.

Concluding, the Committee stated that all the four complaints against the professor had been proven and he was guilty of misconduct.

Sources said the action against Amit Kumar was delayed as he had moved the Delhi High Court and filed three petitions against the college. And all the three petitions were dismissed. However, the college had to attend them and the authorities could not move fast as the matter was sub judice.

“As a college, we are governed by rules. We have been consistently working towards implementing the ICC recommendations. The College did considerable amount of work in this case. It must be noted that Amit Kumar had filed two writ petitions and one Letter Patents Appeal (LPA) in the Delhi High Court. All of them have been dismissed. The Governing Body has been cooperative in handling this case,” said Mukti Sanyal, the principal of Bharati College.

The Governing Body, whose chairman is Ajay Gaur, has issued a show-cause notice to the professor and his response is awaited. In case the GB does not get a response, an ex-parte decision would be taken.

After the GB takes a decision about the action to be taken against the professor, it sends a report to the VC for approval, which is given without much ado. However, in this case, despite the GB having recommended '’suspension as an interim measure five months ago’, the VC Yogesh Tyagi has been stalling his removal citing various reasons. Additionally, he has been demanding for documentation and sensitive information from the ICC regarding the complainants. According to rules, seeking such information from the ICC is illegal.

When Sanyal was asked if the VC was stalling the removal, she said, “I wouldn’t say he is not stalling. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone, but we want it to happen in a way that will give justice to the girls.”

“We are hoping to conclude this case in a week’s time,” Sanyal asserted.

Amit Kumar was formerly teacher at Shyamlal College and according to sources, he had allegedly attempted to sexually harass a student there too. This led him to resign from the college and join Bharati College. He was a student of Benaras Hindu University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

It must also be remembered that Tyagi has been accused of acting at the Centre’s behest as he had refused to meet a delegation on Modi’s certificates and had also refused to furnish the PM’s degree certificates. He has also been trying not to constitute the DU governing bodies late last year. It was alleged that though DU was an autonomous institution, Tyagi was being pressurised by the Bharatiya Janata Party as the party leaders want to form governing bodies as per their wishes. A governing body oversees the functions of a college.

Vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi did not respond to phone calls and an email. This story will be updated, when VC Yogesh Tyagi’s office responds.

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