Published: 27th May 2022
Caste bias at NIFT Chennai: Institute's director, who "humiliated the victim", booked along with another top official
Ilanchezhian told TNIE he had informed higher-ups in Delhi about the discrimination and they advised the director to shift him back to his original room
Chennai police have booked two top officials of the premier National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) on charges of practising caste-based discrimination against a senior administrative official from an SC community.
Although the FIR was filed on May 8, the complainant, K Ilanchezhian, a senior assistant director of the institute under the Union Textiles Ministry, said he was never given a copy, and only managed to access it from the State police website on Tuesday.
“The institute’s director, Anitha Mabel Manohar, humiliated the victim by shifting his office from the main building to a student hostel room. His office space was allotted to his junior, a research assistant who belongs to a higher caste,” said a police officer, quoting the FIR.
As per the FIR, registered by the Taramani police, a notice was issued allotting the victim a separate car parking slot on the rear side of the campus, and he was targeted by the accused from September 2020 to March 2022.
Besides Anitha, the FIR names the institute’s joint director B Narasimhan. Both have been booked under Section 3 (1) (r) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which deals with intentionally insulting a member of an SC/ ST community in public view.
According to the FIR, Anitha had filed a complaint against Ilanchezhian with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in 2020. In February 2022, the ICC said the complaint did not fall under its purview.
Ilanchezhian told TNIE he had informed higher-ups in Delhi about the discrimination and they advised the director to shift him back to his original room. But Anitha allegedly refused to comply, and issued a counter order to ensure he stayed in the hostel building. Ilanchezhian also alleged he was not even allowed to take charge when he got promoted as senior assistant director.
Allegations not true, says NIFT director’s husband
He claimed that Anitha filed a sexual harassment complaint against him to further harass him. When contacted, advocate Rabu Manohar, Anitha’s husband, said Ilanchezhian’s allegations are false. Speaking on behalf of Anitha, he said Ilanchezhian was transferred based on a confidential communication from the vigilance department.
“After getting approval of the head office, he was transferred from the administration department to the building department, which is on the same campus. Ilanchezhian said he was shifted because he belonged to an SC community. But he was replaced by another official from the same community,” he claimed.
Manohar said Anitha filed a police case against Ilanchezhian and probe is pending. Anitha had moved the Madras High Court seeking to quash the FIR against her. When the matter came up for hearing before Justice Anand Venkatesh on May 20, the judge refused to stay the investigation and adjourned the case.