COIMBATORE: Vice Chancellor of the Bharathiar University, A Ganapathy, was booked under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly harassing a Dalit scholar. While the complainant alleged that the Vice Chancellor intentionally denied a doctoral fellowship post to her, Ganapathy denied the allegations, saying there was no discrimination.
The complainant, N Lakshmi Prabha, had earlier knocked the doors of a court after she was denied appointment as an assistant professor. Prabha received her doctoral degree in Biotechnology in 2011. In 2016, she applied for the post of assistant professor in the university, but was rejected, following which dragged the varsity to the court alleging injustice.
“Though I was eligible for the post, the university intentionally recruited a man from SC community. The post is allotted to a woman from SC community. According to the priority system, I should have been recruited, as the university had promised offer job benefits after acquiring my father-in-law’s agricultural land in 1988,” she said in her complaint.
After the university rejected her application, she lodged a complaint with the Higher Education Department, but there was no response. In the academic year 2017-18, she applied for a post-doctoral fellowship (PDF) of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for a five-year term. The UGC asked her to submit a verification pro forma through the BU Registrar before July 31. She submitted the pro forma through her mentor on June 26. However, instead of forwarding it to the UGC, the BU asked her to change her institute. Meanwhile, it also asked her to change her mentor as per the norms fixed by the UGC.
“Even after changing the mentor, the University did not forward my pro forma to the UGC. I approached the Vice Chancellor to ask about my PDF. But, he humiliated me,” alleged Lakshmi Prabha. “The Vice Chancellor is intentionally obstructing my access to public educational institution. His intentional and wilful refusal to carry out the duties of Vice Chancellor have resulted in my losing out on research fellowship of nearly `40 lakh, which also denied me research experience and destroyed my career,” she added.
The Vadavalli police have registered a case against Vice Chancellor A Ganapathy under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, under sections 3(1)(za)(e) (obstructs or prevents a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any manner with regard to practicing any profession or the carrying on any occupation or employment in any job which other members of the public, or any section thereof, have a right to use or have access to), 3(1)(r)(intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view) and 3(2)(va) (commits any offence specified in the Schedule, against a person or property, knowing that such person is a member of a a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe).
When asked, the Vice Chancellor said the allegations levelled against him were false. “As per UGC norms, the mentor should have guided at least three research scholars. Therefore, the first mentor was not fit for the post. She changed the mentor and named a professor from Chemistry department. We have asked the UGC whether the person from the Chemistry department could be a mentor for a researcher in biotechnology. We are yet to get a reply from the UGC,” he said.
About the irregularities in the recruitment of assistant professor, he said Lakshmi Prabha had approached a court, but she did not meet the requirements. She was rejected in the personal interview, added Ganapathy.