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Fresh probe likely in JU case

- VC terms molestation report ‘inconclusive’

Jadavpur University may order a fresh probe into a complaint of molestation lodged against a physics teacher following an “inconclusive” report of the first inquiry team.

“The report is inconclusive. It has merely narrated the versions of the complainant and the accused. I cannot take any action on the basis of the report, which will be tabled before the executive council,” said interim vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakraborty.

The council is the university’s highest decision-making body.

Asked whether a fresh inquiry would be ordered, Chakraborty said: “The council has to decide on this. If the members are unanimous that the complaint has to be re-examined, it can be done.”

Several council members Metro spoke to said unanimity over a fresh probe is a certainty given the mood on campus.

A first-year student of instrumentation engineering had filed a complaint with the head of her department, stating that a physics teacher had molested her on March 18 when she went to meet him at a laboratory on JU’s Salt Lake campus.

Registrar Pradip Ghosh had asked the university’s sexual harassment cell to probe the allegation. A committee comprising a few teachers and some student representatives took up the probe.

Many members of the executive council are now expressing doubts over whether the probe panel had exercised all “due diligence” the sensitive nature of the case had demanded.

“In a case like this, the girl should be allowed to speak freely. Instead of just recording her version, the team should have taken her into confidence and encouraged her to open up. We doubt whether the inquiry committee had done that,” a member of the council said, refusing to be named.

“There are several ways to ascertain the veracity of an allegation, such as asking the complainant and the accused to sit face to face and narrate their respective versions. This technique is usually followed while probing ragging complaints. In this case, so far we know, the team recorded the versions of the student and the teacher separately,” the member said.

Ipsita Chanda, the head of the cell to probe sexual harassment charges and a teacher of the university, refused to comment on the issue. “I have nothing to say on the matter because it is confidential.”