IIM-Calcutta Takes Decisive Action in response to POSH Complaint

  • Posted on February 21, 2024

By Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma

Introduction:

In recent years, concerning trend has emerged with a notable rise in sexual harassment complaints within educational institutions. This disturbing pattern is not an isolated incident.

Merely days ago, alarming news surfaced as a group of 500 female students from a university in Haryana levying accusations of sexual harassment against a professor.[1]

And now, more recently, we are confronted with a recent press statement of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C) released on Tuesday i.e., January 16, 2024 announcing the recommendation for the removal of its director-in-charge following a written complaint of sexual harassment levelled against him. [2]

The institute is currently investigating the allegations to ensure a thorough and impartial examination of the matter.

“The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the institute has been in receipt of a written complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) against the then Director-in-Charge professor Sahadeb Sarkar. The ICC has ascertained that prima facie the complaint warrants a formal inquiry and communicated the same to the Board of Governors (BoG),” the statement read.[3]

The ICC in its recommendation had expressed concerns regarding the ability of conducting a free and unbiased investigation, particularly in terms of accessing witnesses, staff, faculty and institute documents, while Mr. Sarkar retained his position.

Given the binding nature of the ICC’s recommendations under the POSH Act, the IIM Board of Governor convened a special meeting on January 06, 2024 to implement the removal of Mr. Sarkar from the said post and any other position wherein he had administrative charges in IIM Calcutta, until a formal inquiry is completed. [4]

The board however clarified that its acceptance of the ICC’s recommendations should not be construed as a reflection of its opinions on the merits or demerits of the allegations. It is emphasized that the decision to remove Mr. Sarkar is a proactive step by the institute to ensure a fair and impartial inquiry proceeding into the alleged matter.

However, Mr. Sarkar denied all the allegations and remarked as “baseless”. [5]

“I emphatically deny the allegations made against me. I am shocked with the baseless allegations. In any case this seems to be an official press release by the management and I am prevented from speaking to the press by the POSH rules 17(6) of the institute. I will address this appropriately at an appropriate forum,” he said.[6]

As per the report, the next senior-most faculty member, Professor Saibal Chattopadhyay has assumed the post of Director-in-Charge in light of these developments.

 

Conclusion:

This disconcerting revelation underscores the gravity of the issue, emphasizing the urgent need for systematic change and proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff alike.

 

[1] https://ssrana.in/articles/sit-instituted-to-investigate-sexual-harassment-charges-at-a-top-haryana-university/

[2] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/iim-calcutta-removes-director-over-sexual-harassment-plaint/articleshow/106907706.cms

[3] https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/iim-calcutta-removes-director-over-sexual-harassment-complaint-9112870/

[4] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/director-exited-over-sexual-harassment-inquiry-iimc-101705428974453.html

[5] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/iim-calcutta-sexual-harassment-director-removal

[6] https://thewire.in/education/iim-calcutta-removes-director-sahadeb-sarkar-over-sexual-harassment-complaint