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Mithibai College principal gets bail in molestation case

By Vijay Kumar Yadav
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2020 12:23 AM IST

The principal of Mithibai College, Dr Rajpal Hande, was granted anticipatory bail after he was accused of molesting and sexually harassing a lecturer of a college in the central suburbs between 2004 and 2007, when he was the principal there. According to the woman, while she had first complained in 2007, the Tilak Nagar police registered an FIR only in 2018 after she wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“This is a totally false and frivolous case to tarnish my image. The court has granted anticipatory bail. I’ve also approached the Bombay high court,” said Hande.

The management of Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal (SVKM), which runs Mithibai College, refused to comment on the case.

“The accused managed to get anticipatory bail on the condition that he shall present himself before the investigator,” said senior inspector Sushil Kamble, Tilak Nagar police station.

“On January 17, following a sessions court’s order, we arrested him and released him on a personal recognisance (PR) bond of 15,000. A charge sheet will soon be filed in the case,” Kamble added.

A similar FIR had also been registered against Hande in 2019 for molesting a psychologist during an event at Mithibai College in 2016.

“I was informed by the police that when the police first went to Mithibai College to arrest him, the principal ran away and then later came to the police station along with his lawyer to surrender,” said the complainant. According to the 2018 FIR, which HT has a copy of, Hande showed the woman a cassette with a suggestive cover picture of Khajuraho temple. At one instance, Hande allegedly held the survivor’s shoulder from behind and when she resisted, he told her, “I am treating you like my girlfriend”.

The woman alleged in her letter to the human rights commission that she lost her job after she complained to various authorities, including the university and the women’s rights commission, against Hande. The college dismissed her on charges of “defaming” the principal and the college.

“After approaching senior police officers and the women’s rights commission, I saw no progress, which is when I wrote to the Prime Minister on September 23, 2017. After the PMO took cognisance and instructed the local authorities to look into it, on December 3, 2018, the Tilak Nagar police lodged an FIR, 11 years after I had made the first complaint in 2007,” the complainant said.

“I had complained to the human rights commission against the management of the college. They should also be booked on charges of abetment, conspiracy, common intention for helping Hande,” the woman said.

“We have identified some witnesses. Also, in such cases, the survivor’s statement holds weight. We will soon be filing a charge sheet in the case,” said Sarita Chavan, investigating officer

When asked why there was a delay in the investigation and arrest of the accused, Chavan said that earlier some other officer was probing the case. “There was no delay from my side. The complainant, too, took time to produce certain documents,” Chavan said.

“The incident and later the struggle to get justice have shattered my life. For many years, I had gone through tremendous mental and financial stress. To fight this battle, I did my LLB and will fight the case till the culprit is sentenced for his crime,” the complainant said.

After the FIR was registered, another psychologist alleged that Hande had behaved inappropriately with her at a conference held by the Bombay Psychological Association in 2016 in Mithibai College. After no action was taken by the college, she filed a complaint against him at Juhu police station on February 10, 2019, for sexual harassment. After the incident, she wrote a series of letters to the management of the college, hoping for strict and immediate action against the principal. However, after not receiving any positive response from the college, she finally submitted her written complaint to the Juhu police in February and the FIR was finally registered in March 2019.

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