A local court in Ahmedabad on Saturday rejected the bail plea of a Gujarat University professor, arrested on charges of sexually harassing his women colleagues, saying prima facie he had committed an "obscene" act.
Sarman Zala, head of political science department at the university, was sent to 14-day judicial custody by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate MH Patel.
The 56-year-old teacher was arrested on August 14 for allegedly writing obscene letters to three women colleagues and sent to one-day police custody yesterday. He later applied for bail.
The court, while rejecting the application, observed that the professor had prima facie committed an "obscene" act against his women colleagues. Also, there is a probability that he may have done such acts with girl students too.
"It is also a matter of investigation whether the accused had written any such obscene letter to girl students whose parents showed faith in him and sent their children to get education from him.
"If he is freed (on bail), there are chances that those girls will feel hesitant to come forward and report any such incident. Also, the accused may suppress facts if he is released," the magistrate observed.
The court noted that charges against Zala are non-bailable and his release on bail would have a negative impact on society.
Earlier, during hearing on the application, the defence counsel had said the professor was a gold medallist and he will not run away if granted bail. Also, Zala has showed readiness to cooperate in the probe.
On the other hand, the state and complainants contended that Zala had committed an offence which was non-bailable in nature.
After hearing all sides, the court declined to grant relief to Zala and sent him to Sabarmati Jail for two weeks.
Zala has been booked under IPC Sections 354-A (sexual harassment), 509 (insulting the modesty of women) and 506 (criminal intimidation). The last section has also been invoked against his wife and an unidentified person.
The issue came to light when the women professors filed a police complaint on July 30 about receiving anonymous letters written in vulgar language in their offices. After finding out that Zala had allegedly written the letters, they lodged an FIR on August 3.