JNUSU challenges clean chit to professor accused of sexual harassment
In March last year, at least eight women had accused Atul Johri, a professor at JNU’s School of Life Sciences (SLS), of sexual harassment, leading to his arrest and subsequent bail the same day.delhi Updated: Jan 10, 2019 16:02 IST
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union has refused to accept what it called “the fraudulent findings” of the internal complaints committee (ICC), which gave a clean chit to professor Atul Johri -- an alleged accused in eight sexual harassment cases -- and called for a protest on Thursday.
In August 2018, the committee in its report to the Delhi High Court reportedly cleared Johri of the charges.
“We stand with the eight complainants who braved everything and fought one of the most powerful man in JNU administration who has the patronage of the JNU vice-chancellor. We will seek justice and not accept the fraudulent findings of the ICC, which is working at the behest of the V-C,” JNUSU president N Sai Balaji said on Wednesday, adding they would protest outside the ICC chairperson’s office on Thursday.
Committee chairperson Vibha Tandon refused to comment. In March last year, at least eight women had accused Johri, a professor at JNU’s School of Life Sciences (SLS), of sexual harassment, leading to his arrest and subsequent bail the same day. Johri was forced to step down from his administrative posts.
The Delhi High Court had in May 2018 ordered the university to probe if the allegations against Johri warranted his immediate suspension. The ICC submitted a report to the HC in August, giving a clean chit to Johri.
“We will challenge the report in the next hearing scheduled on January 25,” said Preeti Umarao, student executive committee member, on behalf of the complainants. “No charge sheet has been filed in the eight FIRs against him. The police have not even collected evidence from the school or taken any statement from the witnesses.”
Johri refused to comment, saying the matter is “subjudice”. His counsel Amit Anand Tiwari said the report vindicated his client’s stand that the case against him was false. “In view of the report, we are going to seek dismissal of the petition,” he said.
In his bail plea before the trial court on March 20, the professor had said he was targeted for his support for the compulsory attendance policy.
“None of the complainants trusted the ICC because Johri is close to the V-C, who appointed ICC members. This is why we had decided to go for a police complaint,” said Geeta Kumari, former JNUSU president and former GSCASH representative.
Police said they had already arrested him in the case and that he was on bail. An officer said the matter is being monitored by the high court.
First Published: Jan 10, 2019 15:46 IST