Published: 10th September 2019
ICC finds MKU prof guilty of sexual harassment, Madurai HC stays actions taken against him
The judge issued a notice to V-C and Registrar of MKU, Syndicate Committee, Internal Complaints Committee and the research scholar, returnable in two weeks
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered an interim stay on action taken against a Madurai Kamaraj University professor, who was accused of harassing and demanding illegal gratification from a research scholar. Justice V M Velumani passed the interim order on a petition filed by one K Karnamaharajan, Professor and Head of Centre for Film and Electronic Media Studies, challenging an order of ‘compulsory retirement’ issued to him by the university for allegedly harassing a female research scholar and demanding Rs 2 lakh as bribe from her for Ph.D registration. The ICC constituted by the University had however found the professor guilty.
The judge issued a notice to V-C and Registrar of MKU, Syndicate Committee, Internal Complaints Committee and the research scholar, returnable in two weeks. Karnamaharajan submitted in his petition that the complainant joined as a full-time research scholar under him in October 2017 but remained absent by signing the attendance register in advance or by making excuses.
When demanded explanation for the unauthorized absence, she filed a false complaint against him as if he passed inappropriate comments at her, seeking sexual favours, he alleged. The petitioner further claimed that the ICC was biased in its investigation. Pointing out that his petition challenging the show cause notice is still pending, he prayed the court to quash the order and reinstate him in his post.
In December 2018, the student had filed a complaint claiming she was being sexually and emotionally harassed by Karnamaharajan. Subsequently, the University put together an Internal Complaints Committee consisting of MKU's deputy registrars Selvi, Anbu and professors V S Vasantha, Pushparaj and Jayabharathi. The committee conducted an extensive investigation and prepared a report that proved the allegations.
In February, a syndicate meeting was held and the University had decided to take action but nothing happened for six months. Then when the news that the professor had applied to be a registrar at the University started going around, the faculty and students became agitated. So in August, the professor was asked to go on compulsory retirement.