At a time when women's safety is emerging as the biggest concern in society, the Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya (BPSMV), Sonepat, seems to be going soft on one of its staffers who was found guilty of sexually harassing a minor girl, by asking the university's committee that probed the matter to reopen the case on the accused's plea.
A16-year-old student of Class 11 of the Kanya Gurukul Senior Secondary School run under the aegis of the university had lodged a complaint on February 18, 2013 against its staffer Dharambir Singh Siwach (50), who was also the victim's local guardian, for attempting to rape her by brandishing a knife.
On the pretext of taking her for an outing on a holiday, the accused had attempted to commit crime at a secluded place inside the university on February 17, which was a Sunday.
The accused and victim hail from the same village of Uttar Pradesh. Dharambir, who works at BPSMV as accountant, had threatened to kill the minor victim if she would not submit to his sexual advances, but fortunately she saved herself by running away, the complaint said.
The university' anti-sexual harassment committee in its preliminary report submitted to then vice-chancellor Pankaj Mittal that the accused be banned from entering university premises and kept under suspension.
After examining the accused and the victim in a series of meetings, the committee had filed a report on May 29, 2013, wherein it held the accused guilty of offence.
On December 6, 2013, the then vice chancellor had ordered to impose compulsory retirement punishment on the accused and instructed registrar Asha Kadyan to "process the order".
When legal opinion was sought in this regard, university advocate Tribhuwan Dahiya, on June 10, 2014, commented that the committee had found him guilty of sexual harassment. He suggested proceeding with orders as per rules of prevention, prohibition and punishment of university rules and regulations.
A university professor told HT that the victim stood by her complaint whenever she was called up in the case before the authorities till she passed out from the university-run school.
The accused also failed to get any reprieve from district court when he appealed for seeking a stay on the university's order of compulsory retirement.
But, in a recent development, new vice-chancellor Asha Kadyan, who was at the post of registrar at the time of incident, has accepted the affidavit submitted by the accused to reconsider the case.
The accused in his plea has submitted an affidavit on behalf of the victim seeking withdrawal of complaint. The accused also maintained that he was farmed in the case due to a property dispute.
Sources said that the promptness being shown by university authorities by asking the committee to reopen the case based on the victim's alleged plea for withdrawal of complaint would set a wrong precedent of permitting a sexual offender to continue in job at a women's university.
Vice-chancellor Asha Kadyan, however, claimed that they were neither reopening the case nor reconsidering the case. There was no change in the status of the case so far, she added.
However, the letter dispatched by the nodal officer of the university's legal cell to anti-sexual harassment committee reads that in the interest of justice, the case should be reopened.