THE DINDOSHI sessions court has granted anticipatory bail to a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) professor, who was booked for abetting the suicide of a student last month.
Vijayakumar Unnitham, the 58-year-old professor and chairperson of the Centre for Social and Organisational Leadership at TISS, claimed in his anticipatory bail plea that the death of the student, Sanket Tambe, does not fall under the ambit of abetment of suicide.
The court, while granting Unnitham anticipatory bail on December 20, imposed several conditions, including his cooperation with the probe agency.
Tambe (24) had committed suicide by jumping off the eighth floor of a building in Powai on December 10, 2018. A suicide note found in Tambe’s home had named the professor. Unnitham was booked under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC by the Powai police following a complaint filed by Tambe’s mother, who had said that in the suicide note, her son had spoken of constant harassment by the professor.
The police had claimed that Tambe was taunted by Unnitham for being unemployed while he was studying at TISS. In his plea filed through advocate Zehra Charania, Unnitham told the court that this cannot be a ground for abetment of suicide.
He added that the student had opted out of summer placements from April 1 to May 31, last year, stating that he wanted to intern with senior legal counsels in Delhi or Mumbai. Unnitham claimed that this showed that the student had sought an “alternative plan” in the legal field. Tambe had joined the postgraduation course at TISS in June 2018, and had stopped attending classes since mid-October. Unnitham further claimed that Tambe was suffering from “psychological problems”.
“The applicant will face great humiliation without any lawful justification and his reputation in the society will be tarnished along with the reputation of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences,” the anticipatory bail plea stated.
A separate inquiry has been announced by TISS into the incident. Students had also sought Unnitham’s suspension pending inquiry.
Unnitham is currently on indefinite leave after a former student of the institute accused him of sexual harassment between 2004 and 2006.