DU: Timeline of visually-impaired professor fined Rs 7 lakh for hostel overstay

The high court passed a decision in her favour, asking the university to provide an alternate accommodation and to resolve the matter ‘sympathetically’
Here's her story
Here's her story(Pic: Professor Sharmishtha Atreja + EdexLive Desk)

Professor Sharmishtha Atreja, an assistant professor at Delhi University’s Department of Philosophy has faced several struggles on her journey as an academician with 100 per cent visual impairment.

Now, Delhi University (DU) has fined the visually impaired assistant professor with a fine of Rs 7 lakh for staying in the university accommodation beyond her tenure as a resident tutor.

This has raised many eyebrows among the academic circles as many believe that it points towards a larger issue with university’s inclusivity and humanitarian policies.

Timeline

In 2015, Prof Sharmishtha Atreja joined the university as a faculty member. Being a non-native, and also a young blind woman, Atreja had been facing difficulties finding a home for herself in the bustling city. Hence, she started writing to the university for an accommodation.

However, for years, she did not get any response.

In 2017, she came across an opening for a resident tutorship at the university. Hoping for it to be the end of her hardships, she applied for the position, and got the same in 2018.

However, despite being a resident tutor, Prof Sharmishta wasn't allotted a residence.

It was only in 2021, six years after she had joined the university, that the university’s Dean of Colleges Professor Balaram Pani gave heed to the assistant professor’s demands and allotted her a ground floor accommodation in one of the university hostels.

However, less than a year after her shifting to the allotted residence, the professor received an eviction letter from the university saying that she would need to evict immediately as a new warden requires the space, even when her tenure as a resident tutorship hasn't ended.

Another shocker followed for the assistant professor when her tenure as a resident tutor wasn’t extended in March 2023 without any plausible explanation.

After another round of writing to the authorities, she was given another accommodation on Delhi’s Mall Road. However, this place was not suitable for a person with 100 percent visual impairment, as Prof Atreja shared that she had to cross two main roads to get to the department.

After her appeal to the university authorities for a more suitable accommodation were ignored, the professor moved Delhi High Court.

The high court passed a decision in her favour, asking the university to provide an alternate accommodation and to resolve the matter ‘sympathetically’.

However, while the professor was allotted a ground floor accommodation, she was slapped with a hefty fine of Rs 7 lakh for overstaying her tenure.

The university, in her letter, said that the penalty has been reduced by 50 per cent from Rs 13 lakh.and that it would be cut by 30 per cent of her monthly pay.

The university now has promised to review the fine.

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