CITIES

Respect woman’s wish not to pursue harass case: Calcutta HC | Kolkata News – Times of India

KOLKATA: The Calcutta high court on Tuesday said if a woman refuses to press sexual harassment charges, and gives it in writing to probe committees, her desire should be respected. The HC said, it is time the society started “taking women seriously and treat them with dignity, not out of fear of the law but out of respect”.
In a judgement on the August 2020 sexual harassment case against a Burdwan University professor, Justice Amrita Sinha said: The student “prefers a quiet burial to the entire incident. There is no reason why the desire and intention of the lady student will not be taken into consideration… .”
In this case, the sexual harassment allegations were levelled by third parties which included the students’ union, a political party’s student wing, and the head of the department in which the professor worked. The complainants had provided a 2018 audio clip which reportedly contained conversations of the accused and the victim. The HC noted that this clip was never authenticated by agencies.
The university then referred the case to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). When the ICC tried to reach out to the student, she said she wouldn’t press charges and even gave it in writing that neither she, nor her parents, were willing to proceed with the matter.
Given this, the ICC could not proceed with the case but recommended that the university could take appropriate action. The ICC recommendations formed the basis of the university’s departmental proceedings against the professor and he was barred from all academic activities. The professor then moved the HC.
The HC said, “After lapse of about two years the incident surfaced, that too, at the behest of some organization/ students’ union. Neither the students’ union nor any of its members have obtained consent from the concerned student prior to proceeding with the matter.
The complainants do not have any personal knowledge of the alleged incident. It appears that, for reasons best known to them, the union became extra vigilant and re-opened the case, when practically the alleged incident died a natural death. The same has caused disrepute to not only the petitioner but also to the university and the student concerned.”

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