75-yr-old former DU professor absolved of sexual harassment charge
The court set aside the findings on the grounds that the DU’s Executive Council had not granted the professor the opportunity to cross- examine the complainants.Updated: Aug 07, 2017, 07:07 IST
The Delhi High Court has absolved a 75-year-old former Delhi University (DU) professor of the charge of sexual harassment levelled against him by two researchers 16 years ago.
The court set aside the March 2002 decision of the DU’s Executive Council to disengage the professor from services.
In a move to end his financial ordeal, Justice V Kameswar Rao also asked the university administration to release all arrears and retiral benefits within three months to the professor.
The professor, who was of 60 years of age when the action was taken against him, could have continued in service for two more years.
However, the court made clear that he shall not be entitled to any arrears for the period of two years, except that the two years shall be treated as period spent on duty.
It did not accept the DU’s demand that the matter be sent back again to its enquiry committee for fresh adjudication, as the court had set aside the findings on the grounds that the panel had not granted the professor the opportunity to cross- examine the complainants and did not supply a copy of the panel’s report.
The court observed that the professor had moved it only to erase the stigma and did not seek any monetary relief on account of loss of service for two years.
“This court is of the view that the age of the petitioner, who is said to be of 75 years, the researchers also have equally aged, a remand for fresh enquiry from the stage of framing of charges and allowing cross examination of the witnesses would be an embarrassment for the parties at this stage of their life.
“That apart, the process to complete the enquiry may take some time and if an order is passed against the petitioner, the same can be subject matter of a challenge which may take further time for a decision. It shall be appropriate, if the matter is put at rest, but with limited relief to the petitioner,” the court added.
The court, in its order, also noted, “it is a conceded position that during the time when the enquiry was conducted by the Enquiry Committee, there were no rules framed by the University for enquiring into the allegations of sexual harassment”.
The professor had moved the court against the Council’s order and alleged that that the enquiry committee constituted by the Vice Chancellor to investigate the allegations had failed to follow the due process.
Through his counsel, he had submitted in the court that no charge sheet was filed against him, nor was he asked to explain the charges.
His counsel had argued that the order was unreasoned and was passed in flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice which resulted in the petitioner getting disengaged prematurely, which has put a stigma on the character of the professor.