Madras HC refuses to stay sexual harassment probe against college faculty

Justice S Vaidyanathan, in the order on August 13, said that there is no justifiable ground to interfere with the probe.

Published: 17th August 2019 06:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th August 2019 06:09 AM   |  A+A-

Madras Christian College campus. [Express File Photo]

By Express News Service

The Madras High Court has declined to quash a showcause notice issued to a teaching faculty member of the Madras Christian College (MCC) who is facing sexual harassment charges from at least 34 female students.

Samuel Tennyson, an assistant professor in the Zoology department of the college, in a writ petition had sought to quash the fact finding report of the college's Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) dated April 17, 2019. The report had stated that Tennyson had sexually harassed female students. He also sought to quash the consequential second show cause notice dated May 24, 2019.

Besides the probe, the college management had issued him a warning and barred him from paper-evaluation work and internal examinership for the end semester 2018-2019. He was also barred from accompanying students for tours for three years.

Tennyson argued in the court that the ICC did not given him certain documents and statements he had sought to defend himself. The college and the committee said that sufficient opportunity was given to him to defend.

Disposing the petition, Justice S Vaidyanathan, in the order on August 13, said that there is no justifiable ground to interfere with the fact finding report as well as the second show cause notice. However, the judge, without going into "the question of who is at fault in the present case", observed that the government should think of amendments to laws meant for women protection "to prevent its misuse so as to safeguard the interest of the innocent masculinity too."

The court also observed, "we have to ask a question for ourselves as to whether those laws are invoked by women with genuine reasons."

The judge felt it appropriate to point out that Christian missionaries are always attacked as there are several accusations against them for indulging in compulsory conversion of people of other religions into Christianity. Now, there is a general feeling amongst the parents of students, especially female students, that co-educational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children even though they impart good education and preach morality to students. "As long as a religion is practiced in streets in lieu of its worship places, like temple, mosque and church, such devastation, as in the present case, does occur and will be mushrooming."

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