Saturday, July 15, 2017

NCSC reprimands BBAU VC for harassing Dalit woman officer

Times of India: Lucknow: Saturday, July 15, 2017.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has reprimanded the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) vice-chancellor Prof RC Sobti for showing immature and insensitive attitude in handling an alleged case of harassment reported by a Dalit lady officer of the university. On the complaint of BBAU registrar Prof Sunita Chandra of harassment and use of derogatory remarks by varsity's finance officer RS Singh, the NCSC has also constituted an external committee to examine the incident, which took place on June 15 when the former went to seek a certified copy of her pay slip from the latter.
In an order dated July 12, NCSC chairman RS Katheria has summoned the VC; secretary, Union ministry of human resource development; senior superintendent of police (SSP), and the investigating officer for next hearing on July 27. The interim findings by NCSC, based on the hearing held on July 6, found Sobti making contradictory statements before the Commission. The NCSC stated that FO's behaviour to not issue a certified copy of Chandra's pay slip and instead asking her reasons for her own copy seems to be obstructive, being almost discriminatory in nature. "In fact, with the implementation of the RTI Act, anyone can request for certified copies of any document without citing any reason and university has to supply the same," read the order.
NCSC also pulled up the VC and his advisor for asking registrar to move to a flat below the one allotted to the FO, accused of harassing her. The order stated that both, the VC and his advisor lack basic knowledge of the Vishakha guidelines of Supreme Court and also the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. "This is more regrettable especially since the VC has a legal team advising him," the order stated, advising VC to take steps strictly in conformity of the SHWW Act.
The NCSC has also questioned the validity of the internal complaint committee (ICC) constituted by the VC to probe the alleged harassment case. According to the order, action of VC to refer the matter to ICC, even when there is an involvement of two top officers of the university, shows lack of knowledge of the act as well as foresight, maturity and sensitivity. Since the ICC is de facto, an enquiry committee, and as per SHWW Act, its report is to be treated as enquiry report, the committee's chairperson should be sufficiently senior to the accused. In this case, said the order, the accused is third senior most in the hierarchy, and so any ICC can't be competent as all members would be junior or equivalent to him (FO), in rank and pay scale. Hence, the ICC is irregular and baseless, read the order.
In addition, the NCSC also found VC violating rules of SHWW Act by not meeting Chandra (petitioner) when she went to apprise him of the molestation incident and not assisting her to file an FIR. For proper examination of the incident, a three-member committee with Sadhana Tripathi, member, Commercial Tax Appellate Tribunal, Nutan Thakur advocate and rights activist and Pushpa Balmiki, founder Swachkar Samaj Vikas Manch as its members have been constituted by NCSC. The committee is asked to submit the report to the NCSC and the VC within 1 month.