Press Release, 17.8.07

Observe the Rule of Law

The meeting of the Executive Council scheduled for Monday, 20 August 2007 is a crucial test for the University of Delhi. What the Vice Chancellor does that day will make it clear as to whether the University is being run arbitrarily or in accordance with the rule of law. This meeting of the Executive Council follows a significant statement the Vice Chancellor had reportedly made: that he would not call a meeting specifically to place the report of the Apex Complaints Committee on the complaint of sexual harassment against Prof. Bidyut Chakrabarti, but place it in the Executive Council that gets called in due course. He had exasperatedly admitted that he knew his duty and that was to place the report of the ACC in the Executive Council and implement the recommendations therein. However, his record on observing the laws is rather poor. Nine months after the receipt of the inquiry report on the complaints of sexual harassment against Prof. Gurcharan Singh Arshi, the Vice Chancellor has chosen not to place the report despite the fact that many meetings of the Executive Council were held during this period.

One hoped that the enactment of Ordinance XV(D) on Sexual Harassment in line with the Supreme Court judgement in the Vishakha case would allow complaints of sexual harassment to be routinely taken up for investigation and action in a time-bound manner without the intervention of and pre-judgement by powerful groups and without the need for any favours from the administration. However, the response of the Vice Chancellor in such matters has been a cause of serious concern. The refusal to bring these reports to the Executive Council for implementation has only strengthened the impression that some remarks made earlier by the Vice Chancellor, when he had refused to follow the Ordinance and suspend Prof. Chakrabarty from administrative positions till he was found innocent, were not innocent remarks.

The DTF demands that these reports be placed in the Executive Council meeting of 20 August 2007 and its recommendations be implemented. The DTF also demands that the report of an inquiry committee that has completed its investigations into the complaint of mental harassment of a student against Prof. Irteza Karim of the Department of Urdu be placed for action in the Executive Council meeting of the 20th August 2007. The Vice Chancellor must remember that when his administration had halted the inquiry midway, one elected woman teacher who had brought up the matter to the Academic Council was subjected to a sustained campaign involving circulation of obscene, sexually explicit verses directed at her. The Vice Chancellor should ensure that the culprits behind such an obscene campaign be apprehended and punished at the earliest.

The DTF has written an Open Letter to the Vice Chancellor demanding immediate action in these regards.


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