Let JNU committee take call on Johri’s suspension: HC

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) will take a decision on the suspension of Professor Atul Kumar Johri, accused of sexually harassing women students, after examining the material on record.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher’s direction came while hearing a petition filed by several women students seeking suspension of the professor, against whom eight FIRs have been lodged alleging sexual harassment, and to restrain him from entering the campus.

The court said that the ICC, which deals with sexual harassment matters on campus, would examine the material available on record, including the FIRs, complaints and statements of witnesses.

“…thereafter, reach a prima facie finding as to whether respondent No.4’s (Johri) conduct is such that it merits his immediate suspension and or removal from the campus,” the court said.

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“In case a prima facie case of misconduct is made out, the ICC shall make suitable recommendations to the Vice Chancellor.”

The court has asked the ICC to place a report before it within three weeks, but directed it not to insist the petitioners to depose before it.

The bench has asked police to render necessary assistance to the committee.

To provide a safe working environment to the petitioner students, the court reiterated that the professor would have no access to laboratory No. 409 of the Department of Life Sciences where the students work.

However, the authority concerned in the JNU would provide complete access to petitioner to laboratory No. 409 for doing their research work, the court ordered directing to appoint separate supervisors for them.

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The court also said that if necessary, a separate laboratory should be given to professor to conduct his work, but directed Johri not to contact complainants or any potential witness, and in case of any infraction, the Vice Chancellor would consider removal of professor from the campus.

It also passed the direction that the professor should not take charge as warden of any women’s hostel on the JNU campus and listed the matter for August 17 for further hearing.

On March 16, the police had registered only one FIR based on nine complaints. Later, they registered eight FIRs against Johri on separate complaints of nine students, who alleged that he sexually harassed them in a lab of the Department of Life Sciences.

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