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Posted at: Apr 20, 2019, 7:20 AM; last updated: Apr 20, 2019, 10:37 AM (IST)

Acted swiftly on complaint by researcher: PGI Director

Sexual harassment charge against Dr Vikas Gautam
Acted swiftly on complaint  by researcher: PGI Director

Kaveesha Kohli

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19

The PGI authorities today said they had acted swiftly in response to the allegations of sexual harassment made by a researcher against Dr Vikas Gautam, a professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology.

The PGI authorities also maintained that the National Commission for Women (NCW) had written to the Director of institute, Prof Jagat Ram, asking for his intervention in handing over the report of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) on the matter to the researcher. All documents were immediately handed over to the woman after the NCW letter. Prof Jagat Ram said no notice had been given to the PGI by the NCW.

“This is in no way a notice to the PGI or the Director of the PGI. From the letter, it is clear that commission is looking forward to the personal intervention of the Director in the matter,” Prof Jagat Ram told The Tribune.

The case dates back to May 2018, when the researcher wrote to Prof Savita Kumari, who heads the ICC, claiming that she was molested by Professor Gautam in his office.

The ICC began investigating the case and also sent a copy of the letter to the Director. The ICC submitted its report to the Director in October 2018.

However, it is only the governing body and not the Director who is empowered to undertake disciplinary action against faculty members. The governing body has 14 members and is headed by the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, JP Nadda.

“As per the regulations framed under the PGI Act, any disciplinary action against the faculty members can only be taken by the governing body of the institute, which is the appointing authority as well as the disciplinary authority for the faculty,” said  Prof Jagat Ram.

The governing body, which met in November 2018, ordered the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Professor Gautam in a time-bound manner.

“In compliance with the orders of the governing body, a chargesheet was issued to the faculty member concerned on January 30, 2019, and he was asked to reply within a week,” said Prof Jagat Ram.

Professor Gautam, instead approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which deals with disputes with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of government-appointed persons.

On April 4, CAT directed the PGI not to proceed with the chargesheet until the next hearing, which is slated for April 23.

Professor Gautam’s counsel submitted before CAT that the ICC had not recorded a “definite finding” that he was guilty of sexual harassment as the ICC had used the word “might” in its findings. Professor Gautam refused to comment on the matter.

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