PROTESTS Students in Delhi University’s Ramjas College are fighting an on-going battle to suspend a professor for alleged sexual harassment. AAKASH SHARMA
Located in the University’s North Campus, Ramjas is the oldest constituent college of the University of Delhi, with 120 faculty members and more than 2000 students. It is considered as part of the prestigious triumvirate (St. Stephens College and Hindu College being the other two) that attract under-graduates to Delhi University.
October saw a packed Ramjas College Auditorium when 12 students of the Political Sciences Department took the stage and accused the Vice-Principal Dr. B. N. Ray of unwelcome and intimidating verbal and physical sexual advances.At first, there was stunned silence; then slogans broke out, calling for Ray’s dismissal. The next day, the Delhi University Students Union showed up at the college gates carrying placards and banners asking for justice and Dr. Ray’s suspension.“A year has passed since the incident and still no action has been taken and the accused is still on the University’s rolls, enjoying salary without attending classes. This is an open mockery of the justice delivery system of the University!” said Kumar Rahul, senior faculty member from the Political Science Department of the college. Students allege a nexus between Principal Rajendra Prasad and Ray.“About eight to nine years ago, there was a similar case against Dr. Ray after which he gave a written undertaking to the college that he would not indulge in such behaviour, so he was retained. Though our principal denies the existence of any such undertaking, we have information on the same. This time we have a concrete case against him,” said Ankit Jindal, a student in the college.
Allegations found valid
In November 2007, Dr. Ray was the chair of Vice-Principal, Admissions Convener, and Senior Reader in Ramjas College’s Political Sciences Department, when, following widespread student protests, principal Rajendra Prasad referred the allegations to the College Complaints Committee (CCC).Complying with Ordinance XVD of the University rules, a five-member sub-committee chaired by Madhumita Banerjee was appointed to look into the matter.Meanwhile, as per the rules, disciplinary action was taken against Ray by suspending him until investigation was over. The CCC, which investigates student complaints and provides recommendations to college authorities, appointed a Sub-Committee comprising two teachers, two students and an external lawyer who framed charges against Dr. B. N. Ray.In April 2008, the Sub-Committee found the allegations against Dr. B. N. Ray valid and the committee subsequently submitted its report to the principal recommending that Dr. Ray face termination from service.
Still no action taken
As of October 2008 “the Principal has still not taken any action against the accused, a naked display of autocracy,” said Ankit.“The delay in taking disciplinary action against Dr. B. N. Ray is appalling and sends a negative message to the student and teacher communities. Our agitation will continue till the recommendation of the College Complaints Committee is implemented. It is important for us because this case will set a precedent for the future,” said Gaurav Parashar, president of the Political Science Department.The principal, however, claims that since “Dr. Ray submitted a civil writ petition against the CCC report; the matter is subjustice”.“Why was the CCC committee formed then? The way now is to take the RTI route against both, the Principal and Ray; both of them are trying to hide the matter from the students.Since April, no action has been taken by the Principal against the accused whatsoever. We would like to know why Dr. Ray has not been terminated from service even though charges against him have been proved.” said Mohit Kapur.Political Sciences students and teachers have boycotted classes for a week.
Aakash is a II Year B.Sc. student at Delhi University
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