Calcutta HC stays notice to Visva-Bharati professor

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court has stayed a notice to a professor of the Visva-Bharati by the internal complaints committee of the varsity.

The professor had been accused of making derogatory remarks against the varsity and some of its officials and an enquiry was conducted.

One of the members of the enquiry committee, before which the petitioner professor appeared, complained in writing to the vice-chancellor that he used the term “khos golpo” during the appearance, claiming that it was “extremely inappropriate, considering the time and place of its usage”.

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Following the complaint, the internal complaints committee issued a notice to the professor on August 14, challenging which he moved the high court.

Hearing the petition, Justice Rajasekhar Mantha noted that what transpires from the complaint of the committee member is that the petitioner did not answer any question in the enquiry and stated in Bengali that he is satisfied having a pleasant conversation (“khos golpo”) with the complainant.

The court said that the dictionary meaning of the Bengali phrase “khos golpo” is “a pleasant chat, an amusing tale or story”.

Justice Mantha noted that the complaint does not even indicate that the said “amusing chat of pleasant story” was made with any inappropriate gesture or expression or otherwise.

“It, therefore, is ex facie clear to the Court that the word by any stretch of imagination, cannot amount to any sexual harassment,” the court observed.

Holding that courts normally do not interfere with enquiries particularly that of sexual harassment at the inception, it said that “the facts of the instant case are, however, too blatant and proceedings absolutely ridiculous, warranting interference, to prevent abuse of process of law”.

Justice Mantha on Friday stayed the notice dated August 14 and directed that any proceedings for sexual harassment arising out of the aforesaid complaint shall remain stayed for a period of eight weeks.

The respondents were directed to file affidavit-in- opposition within a period of two weeks, while the petitioner professor will file a reply thereto, if any, by one week thereafter.

The court directed that the matter be mentioned before it for hearing after completion of pleadings.

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