IIT-B professor faces sack for sexual harassment

The central government is set to sack a senior professor at the IIT-Bombay after an institute panel found him guilty of sexually harassing a female student. Once sacked, Gupta will earn the dubious distinction of becoming the first IIT professor to be removed from his job for sexual harassment. Charu Sudan Kasturi reports.
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Updated on Jan 31, 2011 01:13 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByCharu Sudan Kasturi, New Delhi

The central government is set to sack a senior professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay after an institute panel found him guilty of sexually harassing a female student.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal is expected to soon approve compulsory retirement for environmental engineering professor SK Gupta, who has claimed innocence, sources privy to the case told HT.

Sibal is chairman of the IIT Council — the highest decision-making body of the 15 IITs. Gupta had appealed to the HRD ministry and to President Pratibha Patil but both were against any deviation from the IIT recommendation, the sources said.

Once sacked, Gupta will earn the dubious distinction of becoming the first IIT professor to be removed from his job for sexual harassment, IIT administrators said.

Documents related to the case, accessed by HT, indicate that a shocked IIT-Bombay conducted an enquiry promptly after the student complained to the institute’s women’s cell.

The victim, who was allegedly harassed by Gupta for several months, told an IIT counselor, whom she subsequently nominated to represent her before the enquiry panel. “She (the student) did not want to appear before the panel herself,” a source said.

The panel concluded that Gupta had sexually harassed the girl, and the IIT-Bombay board of governors recommended compulsory retirement. “We have zero tolerance for such things,” said a senior administrator.

Gupta, however, said norms were violated during the probe. “I was not even given a chargesheet,” he said. The IIT-Bombay administrator said the probe was conducted according to procedures laid down by the institute.

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