The inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment against former Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover has been closed by the chancellor on the recommendations of an independent internal committee (IIC). The closure of the case came earlier this month, after more than five years of the accusations.
The report of the committee that was headed by Dheera Khandelwal, additional chief secretary, environment, Haryana government, was submitted to the office of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the chancellor of Panjab University. The chancellor’s office has sent a communication to Grover along with the report of the minutes of the meeting of the committee held on June 16, 2020. Grover said he has been informed that the chancellor has accepted the report.
Reason For Closure
As reported by Hindustan Times, all IIC members unanimously recommended to close the inquiry proceedings. Indicating that the woman failed to present herself for the enquiry in the matter, the report stated:
It appears that the complainant did not want to stand to her complaints/allegations, as despite due notices and receipts by her, she has failed to appear before the committee and as the procedure requires there is no jurisdiction to further proceed with the present enquiry into the complaints made by the woman, professor in the Panjab University.
The committee had given the professor three opportunities to appear before it, but she through multiple representations had questioned its jurisdiction, stating there was no employee-employer relationship between the office of the chancellor and Grover, whose term ended in 2018.
Grover Served Legal Notice
Now in a turn of events, Arun Kumar Grover was served a legal notice on Thursday for allegedly making public the proceedings of the Independent Internal Committee (IIC), which was probing the allegations of sexual harassment against him. The legal notice has been served on behalf of the woman professor who had accused him of sexual harassment.
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The notice cites reference to the provisions of Section 16 and 17 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, and states that the provisions of the act clearly mandate that the proceedings or recommendations of the committee are not to be made public. The notice alleged that Grover had shared the proceedings of the committee with the members of the senate on August 18. As reported by HT, the notice served to Grover by the lawyer of the woman professor mentions,
That your actions are not only defamatory but also in violation of the statutory norms and therefore through the present notice, you are hereby called upon to submit an unconditional apology to my client and to withdraw all such communications and actions by virtue of which you have published the minutes of the committee, within seven days of the receipt of this notice.
The notice further stated that in case of failure on Grover’s part to withdraw such publications and submit an unconditional apology within seven days, appropriate civil and criminal proceedings may be initiated against him. The woman professor refused to comment on the matter.
Former V-C Arun Kumar Grover said,
The committee report has said that she has not substantiated her allegations against me and they recommended closing the inquiry. I shared the proceedings with senate members only after I was informed that the chancellor has accepted the report of the committee.
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Grover had, on Friday, written to Panjab University vice-chancellor and demanded that a senate meeting should be convened to discuss the report of the Independent Internal Committee (IIC).
Grover was appointed as the V-C in July 2012 and retired in July 2018. On April 15, 2015, a woman professor accused then PU V-C AK Grover of sexual harassment in a complaint to the then chancellor, Hamid Ansari.
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