The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to Jawaharlal Nehru University and three professors on a petition by a student, who claims he was being targeted for helping another student who was allegedly sexually harassed by a professor. The notice has been sent to the university; professor Mahendra P Lama of the Centre for South Asian Studies; Rajesh Kharat, former chairperson of the Centre for South Asian Studies; and Ajay Patnaik, former Dean at the School of International Studies (SIS).
“The notice was sent on March 20 and they were asked to file replies within seven days,” said Dibyanshu Pandey, advocate of the student who moved court.
In the petition, filed a week ago, the student alleged that his PhD registration was stopped citing frivolous grounds, because he had helped a student who was allegedly sexually harassed.
Pandey claimed: “The alleged incident took place in October last year… My client helped the girl escape. Once the professors got to know, they did not first clear his synopsis. After he made a representation to the Vice-Chancellor, his synopsis was cleared. Then, his PhD registration was stopped. He again made a representation in January but nothing happened, so he moved court.”
Pandey said a sexual harassment complaint has also been handed to the Internal Complaints Committee. Lama could not be reached for comment on email or phone.
Kharat said the complaint was “fake” and that he was not aware of the notice: “It is a matter of investigation by the ICC and I am ready to be probed. The complaint doing rounds says I tried to shield a colleague.”
Patnaik, who was Dean SIS till September 1 last year, said, “I have no influence over ICC, and have always advocated for GSCASH. The original complaint being circulated doesn’t even have my name. I have no knowledge of this case because the complainant never approached me. Today my office was defaced by people dragging my name in the matter because of political interests.”
The JNU Students’ Union said it “believes that any person holding a position of power must be suspended till an enquiry is not completed fairly”.