Published: 11th December 2021
Teacher's conduct as HoD needs to be blemish-free: Delhi High Court
The HC dismissed the plea of a DU professor who was aggrieved over non-appointment as the HoD, following a sexual harassment complaint
The conduct of a teacher as a Head of the Department, who is required to be involved in various activities including interacting with students, needs to be "blemish-free", the Delhi High Court observed, while dismissing the plea of a DU professor who was aggrieved over non-appointment as the HoD, following a sexual harassment complaint.
The High Court said that Ordinance XXIII of the Delhi University makes it very clear that it gives discretion to the Vice-Chancellor to appoint a Head of the Department (HoD). Justice V Kameswar Rao said that the HoD is a temporary appointment for a fixed period without any extra remuneration and after the period is complete, he or she comes back to his or her original designation.
"In that sense, it is not a permanent position like a promotion, the denial of which causes great prejudice. No such prejudice is caused on being denied the post of HoD, for good and valid reasons," the court said.
"The court's order came while dismissing a plea by a professor challenging the appointment of another professor as the HoD of the Chemistry department on the ground that the petitioner was the senior-most professor in the university and was entitled to be HoD.
The case of the university was that pursuant to a complaint of sexual harassment made by a teacher with regard to certain professors, including the petitioner, who were part of the Interview Committee, the Internal Complaint Committees were formed, which have not found anything against him and they have exonerated him.
Pursuant to a finding of a committee, the varsity issued a communication to the professor warning him for the misconduct and that he should not participate in the interviews of the complainant in the future in order to maintain fairness in the selection process.
Senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, submitted that warning is not a penalty under the Conduct Rules and as such, there is no bar for the university to consider the petitioner's case for appointment as an HoD.
Advocate Santosh Kumar, representing Delhi University, submitted that in terms of the Ordinance XXIII of the varsity, there is no compulsion to appoint the senior-most professor if there are good and valid reasons.
The court said it has also been decided that he shall not participate in the interview of the complainant in the future in order to maintain fairness in the selection process. The petitioner has accepted the communication of October 01, 2021, and not challenged the same in the court of law.