New Delhi: The director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Rohtak, Dheeraj Sharma, has been booked for alleged sexual harassment of a former assistant professor at the institute. Sharma was booked at the women police station in Rohtak under Sections 354 (intent to outrage woman’s modesty) and 354 A (sexual harassment) of the IPC on Tuesday, May 29.
According to the Hindustan Times, the complainant, whose service was terminated on May 10, filed an FIR alleging that soon after joining IIM-Rohtak in 2017, Sharma began harassing her. Gunit Kaur Sethi, a spokesperson for the institute, however, claims that the complaint is only a fallout of the woman’s termination and an attempt to defame Sharma and the institute.
The woman has alleged that Sharma harassed her both mentally and sexually and despite her complaint against him to higher authorities on March 25, “no appropriate action has been taken yet,” forcing her to approach the police.
According to the FIR: “He (Sharma) passed objectionable comments and vulgar taunts related to my private sex life with my husband and asked whether my weight becomes hindrance. One day, he came in my cabin and groped my private parts.”
Following his inappropriate behaviour, the woman says she started avoiding Sharma, only interacting with him when necessary, and in public. This, she says, “changed his behaviour” and he began levelling insults and “inflicting mental stress” on her “whenever he got the slightest of opportunity”.
In March, the woman and her husband had filed a complaint against the director to the board of governors, ministry of higher education and the PMO, the Hindustan Times reported. However, Sharma pressured them to retract the complaint.
According to an Indian Express report, in a letter to the police dated May 10, Col (retd) Tilak Bose, the officiating chief administrative officer at IIM Rohtak, claimed “the faculty and management… have strong apprehension that she (the complainant) may involve the management/faculty members in false, flimsy, frivolous and concocted cases to seek revenge as a consequence of her termination.”
The letter further stated that during the course of her employment, she used to “frequently misbehave and threaten to lodge false criminal cases against the faculty and management.”
“Having found her services not up to the mark despite repeated counselling the management was… constrained to terminate her services,” Bose’s letter said.
As per a statement issued by IIM, “The complainant was on probation and was terminated due to her poor performance and abusive conduct with other employees. She is doing this to defame the institute and the director. This is all an afterthought.”
The charges against Sharma come on the heels of recent allegations of irregularities in his appointment based on an RTI query. Two MPs had written to HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on the same issue.