Published: 08th January 2019
Karnataka HC stops IISc from axing #MeToo tainted professor
IISc issued an order on October 17, 2018, stating that the allegations against Prof Giridhar stood established and that he was being compulsorily retired from service
The Karnataka High Court on Monday stayed an order of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) asking one of its professors to take compulsory retirement after an internal committee inquiry found evidence of him sexually harassing one of his students. Hearing the petition filed by Giridhar Madras, the professor, Justice R Devdas passed the interim order.
IISc issued an order on October 17, 2018, stating that the allegations against Prof Giridhar stood established and that he was being compulsorily retired from service.
According to the petition, the professor received a letter on December 15, 2016, from the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), constituted by IISc under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, alleging that one of his students had complained of sexual harassment against him. The said letter did not reveal the identity of the student. In reply, the professor denied the allegations. However, he tendered an apology while making certain undertakings. After the complainant was satisfied with the petitioner's response denying the allegations, the first complaint dated January 20, 2017, was withdrawn, it said.
The professor said the second complaint did not contain any allegations of sexual harassment but instead states that the complainant felt that she was being ignored by him. He contended that he was not even aware of the complainant's identity and despite there being no allegations of any sexual harassment in the second complaint, the ICC arbitrarily proceeded to enquire into the complaint.
The charges were that the professor would message his students (not the complainant specifically) late at night and would make enquiries about the complainant's WhatsApp display picture and message her out of context and also touched the complainant's back while walking down the stairs after supervising an experiment on the terrace of the chemical engineering department, among other things. However, the complainant admitted that this may have been accidental, the professor stated in the petition. He further said there were several lapses in constituting the ICC.