Finally, PU senate sacks assistant prof Komal Singh in sexual harassment case
Decision comes after three years of deliberations, varsity panel had found the public administration teacher guilty of misbehaving with girl students.punjab Updated: May 28, 2018 12:04 IST
After three years of discussions and deliberations, the Panjab University senate terminated the services of assistant professor Komal Singh of the public administration department during its special meeting on Sunday.
The PU committee against sexual harassment (PUCASH) has found Singh guilty in several cases reported by students. In one such case, a postgraduate student on September 10, 2015, accused him of indulging in “sexual talks” with her. In another case, he was accused of entering a class in an inebriated condition in August 2017 and misbehaving with girl students.
- Irked by arguments made by a few senators that Komal Singh only verbally abused the complainants and did not touch them, senator Sanjay Tandon said: “Which kind of society are we living in? Are we waiting for a bigger offence? Are you not encouraging other professors to do it? We are answerable to the society.”
- “Our kids will question us if we do not take an action. Can’t we rise to the occasion? A few persons are suggesting that it is a matter of somebody’s life. It is the question of the existence of the university,” he said.
In the senate’s meeting on April 1, voting had taken place on the matter and three options were given to the senators – removal from service with choice to seek job elsewhere, removal from service without choice to seek job elsewhere and demotion in grade.
Of 51 members, 32 had voted for the first choice while 18 were in favour for demotion. One vote was invalid. The majority decision could not be taken in the absence of two-thirds majority.
Finally, on Sunday, the senate decided to remove Singh with a choice to seek a job elsewhere even as two senators, Ajay Ranga and Akhtar Mahmood, did register their dissent against the stringent punishment. Chaman Lal abstained from the decision.
During the meeting, several senators questioned the PUCASH report. Senator Chaman Lal even questioned its constitution, stating it did not have members from the faculty and students as required under the University Grants Commission (UGC) rules.
However, senator Subhash Sharma refuted his claim, stating that the PUCASH is formed according to the rules of Parliament. Vice-chancellor Arun K Grover said the committee’s formation has been examined by the Union home ministry, which found it satisfactory.
‘Punishment too stringent’
Some senators also called the punishment too stringent, stating that the assistant professor’s family will also end up suffering because of it.
“Komal Singh’s only problem is that he drinks,” said senator Vicky Gill. “He does not behave inappropriately when he is not drunk. He may be sent on probation and then sent to a de-addiction centre.”
Agitated, senator Rajat Sandhir, who is also a member of the PUCASH, said: “Do you know much courage a student needs to come forward?” Senator Prabhjit Singh, too, said: “We have to consider the crime when taking the decision.”
“Does the senate have the right to reject the PUCASH decision? If we do not take action, the high court may say the PU governing body did not take any action in the case,” said senator Ronki Ram.