After a directive from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Delhi University has initiated the process of assigning a new supervisor to the research scholar of St Stephen’s College who had accused her professor of sexual assault. The college’s department of chemistry, however, has claimed that the process cannot be completed till the former supervisor gives his “unconditional consent” to the student to use parts of her earlier research.
“The process of assigning a new supervisor is almost an impossible task which is also very complicated. But seeing the sensitivity of the matter, in a meeting on Monday, the Departmental Research Committee (DRC) had approved a new supervisor for the girl. However, in order for her to begin her research from where she left off, the former supervisor needs to give his unconditional consent to her to use the earlier data. He has given consent, but it’s not unconditional,” said Gurmeet Singh, head of the chemistry department.
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In a letter written to Singh on Tuesday, the girl stated that she does not want to restart her research and sought access to all her earlier work.
“All important compounds for my thesis writing are missing. I don’t have some of the computational material with me and would also like to inform you that I cannot access the software on which Dr Satish Kumar (the accused) and I have been working upon. I seek the urgent assistance from the University to ensure that Principal Valson Thampu and Satish Kumar return all the above mentioned (sic),” she wrote. Singh added, “Why should I be telling the accused what he should be doing? He knows an unconditional consent is sought”.
The research scholar has also specifically requested for a woman supervisor. “I would prefer a woman supervisor. I am not saying that the other male supervisor will do what I have been subjected to,” she stated.
She also claimed that when she went to submit her application, the office refused to accept it.
Singh, however, has claimed that given the field of her research, the request cannot be granted. “She is working in the field of organic chemistry for which we don’t have female supervisors. There are two women in the advisory body so I don’t see the problem. In the DRC meeting on Monday, she gave her consent to a male supervisor, but changed her mind today,” he said. He also claimed that the application was not accepted because the girl arrived after office hours.
The student’s lawyer, however, said the girl had given no consent in writing. “She never committed anything in writing and after pondering over it, she decided to submit her application instead of directly giving consent. The HoD was hostile, which seems to suggest that he has sided with Thampu,” said her lawyer Sunil Matthews.