New Delhi: After JNU professor Atul Johri, against whom at least eight women filed FIRs accusing him of sexual harassment under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC, was given a clean chit in July 2018, the university’s Internal Complaints Committee (IIC) has recommended that if need be, his family be provided adequate security against students who “gheraoed his house and threatened his family”.
On March 21, 2018, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor Atul Johri was arrested over allegations of sexual harassment by eight women. After the allegations surfaced, the case was transfered to the Delhi high court, which directed JNU to investigate them.
In its report dated July 23, 2018, the IIC gave Johri a clean chit, saying he posed “no threat” to the complainants, and that instead it was Johri and his family who faced a threat from the complainants, along with other students on campus.
The report also noted that Johri and his wife previously maintained cordial relations with the complainants and that the accusations were ultimately made with ulterior motives in mind. While it stated the allegations against the defendant were proved wrong, the fact that none of the complainants appeared before the committee left out “certain ingredients” which could not be ascertained.
According to the Indian Express, the report says:
“[The] committee has observed that contrary to the apprehension of the complainants, it is complainants and their witnesses who, in association with other student leaders of JNU, have threatened the defendant, his family and his current student/research trainee”
The report was signed by six members, including ICC presiding officer Vibha Tandon, according to the Indian Express.
The Delhi high court had directed the ICC to examine all the material on record, and furnish a report before the court. The JNU ICC did so in August 2018 and now the matter is listed for hearing on January 25.
The ICC report also concluded Johri was not a threat to the witnesses or anyone on campus, or in a position to influence any evidence. Therefore, it states, there are no grounds for his removal from the JNU campus or to suspend him.
The report also recommends the appointment of female faculty members to visit the hostels to discuss the issues with female students and submit their recommendations in order to make the “academic atmosphere better and to avoid any such incidents in the future.”
Advocate Vrinda Grover, counsel for the complainants, said “The report is totally perverse and the complainants will challenge it before the high court. The report is to protect Atul Johri.”
Johri’s lawyer, Amit Anand Tiwari, said that since he has already been given a clean chit by the ICC, they will request the high court to discount its earlier directive so that Johri can resume his administrative post.
Johri was arrested after three hours of questioning at the Vasant Kunj police station three days after the allegations surfaced. He was subsequently produced before duty magistrate Ritu Singh.
In order to get bail, Johri, who was from the department of Life Sciences, was directed to furnish a bond of Rs 30,000 for each of the eight FIRs registered against him. Johri moved the bail plea, saying sending him to prison would ruin his career.