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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Mumbai: TISS panel finds professor guilty of sexually harassing ex-student

The panel has recommended terminating the services of the professor, said an official close to the inquiry, on the condition of anonymity.

mumbai Updated: Mar 28, 2019 00:32 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
(HT File photo)
         

An internal inquiry committee of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has found a senior professor of the institute guilty of sexual harassment, five months after it began an investigation based on allegations made by a former student.

The panel has recommended terminating the services of the professor, said an official close to the inquiry, on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the director of the institute, Shalini Bharat, has accepted the panel’s recommendation. The institute has not yet made the details of the committee’s findings public.

A show-cause notice was sent to the professor asking him to respond in two weeks.

“The inquiry committee interviewed the student and several other students and professors who were at the institute in the period mentioned by her. This is why the process took this long. Based on the report, a legal notice was sent to the professor and we are waiting for his response,” said the official.

Both the director of the institute, Shalini Bharat, and the accused professor did not respond to calls and text messages from Hindustan Times.

In October 2018, the student took to social media to write about various incidents that took place between 2004 and 2006, when she was pursuing her MA at TISS.

In her post, the student said she and the senior professor had shared a professional relationship throughout the two year-period of her course, but that the professor “abused” her towards the end of the course. “Besides attending his classes, I interacted closely with him, as I had helped him organise a speaker series... The normality of the relationship made it all the more difficult when things changed in the last two or three months at TISS after I opted to submit a thesis under his supervision,” she wrote in her post, which went on to reveal that the professor had tried to kiss her and also asked her to sit on his lap as well.

The internal committee submitted its report a few days ago, but its details are yet to be made public. The TISS students’ union has been demanding for a copy of the report. “It is very surprising that the institute has refused to share the inquiry report with the student who revealed the abuse. This should be the procedure as per law. What’s worse is that despite several complaints against the accused professor, the institute is still waiting to take action against him. This is unacceptable,” said Jit Hazarika, the president of the TISS students’ union.

The the internal complaints committee of TISS, which deals with any sexual harassment cases on campus, took up the matter the day the student wrote the social media post in October last year. Ten days after the complaint was registered with the institute’s ICC, the accused professor was asked to go on indefinite leave, pending inquiry.

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 00:32 IST