ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sexual Harassment Case

This is with reference to the news column published in The Times of India (July 10, 2007) regarding the sexual harassment case in Gandhi Bhawan against its director, Bidyut Chakrabarty, who is also the head of the department of political science, and dean, social sciences, University of Delhi. The news item reveals that the report of the committee that enquired into the case was submitted to the vice chancellor at the end of June by the apex committee and is still awaiting action. We have followed closely the way in which this and other cases of sexual harassment in Delhi University have been addressed by the university authorities. While the report submitted by the enquiry committee into the sexual harassment case against the head of the Punjabi department has not been acted upon even six months after it was submitted, we fear that action on this report may also be deferred endlessly.

The pattern of procedural violations is becoming much too familiar and foreboding. As evident from news reports, the complaint in the Gandhi Bhawan case was allowed to languish in the VC’s office until the complainant made her grievance public compelling the university to institute an enquiry under Ordinance XV(D), which is mandatory, following the directions of the Supreme Court. Not only were the university authorities apathetic to the complainant, it seems that even after setting up the enquiry, they chose not to comply with the recommendation of the subcommittee that Bidyut Chakrabarty step down from all positions of power for the duration of the enquiry. Continuing in his position as the director of Gandhi Bhawan, Chakrabarty slapped a legal notice on the complainant and her colleagues for dereliction of duty, clearly an intimidation tactic, which may have dissuaded the staff of Gandhi Bhawan from coming out with evidence against him. Now that the committee has submitted its report with the instruction that its recommendations be implemented within a time frame, it is indeed surprising that a spate of conflicting rumours should be surrounding the outcome of the enquiry. As women’s groups that have struggled relentlessly for setting up gender-just procedural norms within the university and other public institutions, we find it deplorable that the university should treat cases of sexual harassment at the workplace with such indifference and get away with.

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