IIT-Indore forms panel to probe harassment case, students unconvinced

  • Nida Khan and Vinit, Hindustan Times, Indore
  • Updated: Jul 25, 2016 17:54 IST
Indian Institute of Technology in Indore. (HT photo)

Days after a female CSIR scholar complained of harassment and mental torture against two IIT-Indore faculty members, the institute management constituted a four-member committee to probe the matter on Sunday.

Institute reportedly violated Vishaka guidelines

However, the institute reportedly violated Vishaka guidelines by not including a student representative and an outside member in the committee. The panel comprises Dr Ruchi Sharma, Dr Anjali Bandiwadekar, Dr Antony Vijesh and Dr Suman Mukhopadhyay – all faculty members. A number of students have expressed their concerns that a fair inquiry wouldn’t be possible in such circumstances.

According to Vishaka guidelines, a set of procedural guidelines meant to be observed in cases of sexual harassment, an internal complaints committee should have a woman employed at a senior level of the organisation as its presiding officer. Besides this, it should include no less than two members with experience in social or legal work, and one from a non-governmental organisation.

An overarching rule is that women should account for at least half the panel strength. “The women’s cell in IIT Indore neither has anybody with experience in social work nor any external members. In such a situation, the committee cannot work independently,” a student said on the condition of anonymity.

The CSIR scholar’s well-wishers complained that they wouldn’t be able to speak freely before the committee as it did not have anybody who could present an unbiased stand. They also alleged that the committee members were “openly sharing” the issues being discussed at the meetings with the accused in the case.

CSIR scholar’s scholarship allegedly suspended after she complained of harassment

Meanwhile, it was revealed to Hindustan Times that the institute had allegedly suspended the scholarship of the female CSIR scholar soon after she complained of harassment. However, it was resumed after the uproar ensued. This issue was revealed through a string of emails exchanged by the dean of research and development and the accounts department. Though the IIT-Indore PRO and director were unavailable for comment, an institute official said the matter was taken up seriously by the authorities.

On July 9, the CSIR scholar had alleged through social networking site Twitter that two faculty members of the institute – Dr MS Baig and Dr Mobin Sheikh – were harassing her. “I knocked on every possible door of the IIT-Indore community to get justice for my case of harassment and mental torture... but no solution has come out in the last one month,” she tweeted, tagging the PM and the HRD minister.

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