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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

BHU executive council censured professor in sexual harassment case, also reinstated him

cities Updated: Sep 11, 2019 17:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

A professor at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was censured in June 2019 in connection with a sexual harassment allegation levelled against him by a group of girl students in October 2018. The action was taken following recommendations of the varsity’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The matter came to light on Wednesday after some students objected to the professor -- who had been suspended in October 2018 -- being reinstated as a teacher after the BHU’s executive council met in June, this year.

The accused, Prof SK Chaubey of the zoology department, reportedly passed ‘vulgar comments’ and made ‘obscene gestures’ while accompanying a group of girl students during an academic tour to Bhubaneswar-Puri in October 2018.

In their a written complaint submitted to the BHU vice-chancellor Prof Rakesh Bhatnagar soon after the tour, the girls said: “Prof Chaubey took us to the Nandankanan Zoological Park and then to the Konark Sun Temple. During the visit to the temple, he made obscene gestures and passed vulgar comments while explaining about the idols there.”

Soon after receiving the complaint, Prof Bhatnagar ordered an internal probe into the incident and suspended Prof Chaubey.

“Strict action has been taken against Prof Chaubey. He has been censured and this action has been included in his service record. He has also been given a strict warning,” said Prof Bhatnagar, who heads the executive council, while denying allegations that the accused received ‘light punishment’.

“After this action, Prof Chaubey will never be able to hold any administrative position in any institution. He will also never be given the responsibility of academic tours,” he explained further.

A senior official of the varsity said that the ICC investigated the matter for 40 days. “It spoke to all the students who filed the complaint, eye witnesses and some others. Committee members also spoke to the accused professor. On the basis of all the statements, the committee found the allegations against him to be true,” he said.  

Recommending strict action against Prof Chaubey, the committee had submitted its report to the varsity administration in December 2018. Soon after that, the report was tabled before the university’s executive council but no action was taken at that time. It was only in June 2019 that the executive council decided to censure Prof Chaubey. However, he was also reinstated.

When contacted, Prof Chaubey said that he was innocent. “All allegations against me are false. These charges were levelled under a conspiracy by a few internal people who were envious of my progress and were behind the issue. Along with me, three other professors, two lab attendants and a guardian also accompanied the students during the tour. I only delivered my duty as a teacher and a guardian of the students, to ensure the success of the academic tour, ” he said.


First Published: Sep 11, 2019 16:51 IST