The Delhi High Court Thursday pulled up the JNU administration for withholding the PhD degree of a 37-year-old woman student, who had alleged sexual assault by her supervisor, observing that the varsity cannot do so as it “violates the fundamental rights of the woman”.
Justice J R Midha directed JNU to hand over the degree to the student in two weeks, observing that it would not be appropriate to withhold it even if the complainant is at fault.
“You (JNU) cannot do this. There is remedy for compensation and even for defamation… Tomorrow, you will take away her property,” the judge said, adding that “the power has been given to you (under the statute) only if someone uses unfair means to get the degree.”
The court also allowed inspection of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) findings against the research scholar at the JNU’s counsel chamber at the High Court Friday.
Initially, the JNU counsel opposed giving the student the degree, saying that she will be given only the conditional degree as the inquiry against her is pending. The court, however, questioned the JNU on withholding the degree.
The court’s observation and direction to the university came on the woman’s plea, filed through advocate Dibyanshu Pandey, which said that after she complained about the alleged sexual assault by her supervisor, her PhD degree was withheld and she was barred from attending classes by the presiding officer of the ICC. In her plea, the woman had said that she was not “given the opportunity of being heard during the pendency of the inquiry”.
The woman, who joined the varsity in 2013, has alleged that JNU also refused to provide her the complete ICC report, which had recommended withholding and withdrawal of her degree. To which, the court said: “If the appeal against the ICC recommendation is upheld, the university can withdraw the degree at that stage also. Not at this stage”.
The accused, a professor, has been booked by the Delhi Police for allegedly molesting the woman researcher and the inquiry is pending before a Delhi court. The professor has denied the allegations.