A PHD scholar of Panjab University, who has been expelled by the varsity for lodging a “false complaint of sexual harassment” against the son of Dean of Students Welfare (Women) Neena Caplash, has written to the National Commission of Women, seeking an inquiry into the case and alleged that the varsity authorities, led by PU Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover, have “ignored” her complaints and was “biased” against her. A month after the university syndicate, following the report of Panjab University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH), rejected the 27-year-old’s complaint as “an afterthought” and declared it “false and malicious”, the university deputy registrar (general) in a communication to the student informed her that the PU syndicate at a meeting last month cancelled her PhD thesis for making “a false complaint of sexual harassment”.
The PU letter neither makes any mention of the accused nor gives any detailed reasons for the decision. The vice chancellor declined to comment when asked under what rules the student was suspended. The student has alleged that PUCASH unilaterally took the decision without listening to her version and the V-C declared her case false without conducting investigation. The complaint of sexual harassment dates back to January 7 when the girl, riding a scooty, was allegedly followed by the DSW’s son, who was driving a car. “The moment I reached near the V-C’s house, I found him chasing me once again and he attempted to molest me and sexually harassed me by passing lewd comments,” the girl has written in her complaint addressed to the NCW chairperson. “As I tried to accelerate, he intentionally dashed my scooty with his white Endeavour.”
In an e-mail communication to the vice chancellor on February 1, the student narrated the whole incident and sought an inquiry, following which the V-C forwarded it to PUCASH. She had also accused the DSW (women) of making her fraudulently sign a paper and asked the V-C to get an FIR registered in the case against the official and her son. “She said the doctors wanted me to sign it to proceed with the treatment but then I did not know that she is also the mother of the person (accused). The statement is now being shown as reconciliation statement. I have filed an RTI request to see the contents of the copy but not been provided yet,” said the student. Denying the allegations, DSW (Women) Neena Caplash said she has got “complete proof” that nothing of the sort happened. “There is no question that I have taken any such statement and where is the time for such things in an emergency. I never made her sign anything,” she said.
“The place where she got hurt is near our place and when he (son) called us, I went to the hospital along with my husband. We were there the whole night. She was the one who said there was no fault of us and she had no complaint. I cannot stop anybody from lying now.” A police case registered in the incident, however, does not include any section of sexual harassment. According to the FIR, the accused have been charged with rash driving and causing hurt to others under sections 279 and 337 of the IPC. Police found that the accused did not even have a valid driving licence.
The girl alleged that she had made a mention of the sexual harassment and the lewd comments passed against her by the accused in a complaint lodged with the police. Station House Officer of Sector 11 police station Inspector Lakhbir Singh said they had not found enough evidence to proceed with the sexual harassment charges. PU Senator Jagdish Chander Mehta, who was the student’s guide, said the case should not have been sent to PUCASH as the accused was neither a student nor an employee of the university. “It is a very serious issue and the student is being victimised by the university. Even I had been told by the V-C to disown the student. They have not even sought my comments as a supervisor,” he said. When asked why the case was referred to the committee against sexual harassment as the accused was not associated with the university, the V-C said, “I don’t want to answer any of your questions.”