A professor of IIT Madras has been accused of making sexual advances towards a PhD student. Taking cognisance of the incident the Internal Complaints Committee against Sexual Harassment has recommended stringent action against the accused.
The student has alleged in her complaint that Professor Mathava Kumar had sexually harassed her, had frequently called her home on pretext of collecting thesis while the Google meet was possible during the lockdown.
The five-member committee headed by professor Hema A Murthy noted: “It is very clear that Mathava Kumar misused his position as guide and complainant’s vulnerability as a single parent, and did make sexual advances to her for a temporary relationship.”
Based on the recommendation of the committee, Kumar will undergo POSH training, besides demoting him from the post of Assistant Professor. The accused is also being barred from taking any PhD students for two years, and in case of girl students it is 5 years.
According to the WhatsApp chats between the duo, submitted as evidence by the student, the victim was asked “…to cook for him, thus seeking personal favours”.
The committee noted: “A recent complaint shows that he has again tried to assassinate her character and has tried to pursue her through other students. Such acts are detrimental to the institute where gender equality is a given. Based on this recent violation, the committee does feel that it must be pointed out that a repeat act again can lead to termination.”
The student had to persevere the perverse attitude of her guide for over three years as she had to complete her PhD course, that would provide her good career. She did not report the incident earlier as she had asked for a change of guide.
The recommendations given by the committee was approved by IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi on October 15. However, according to a report by The New Indian Express, the accused Mathava Kumar has moved the Madras High Court challenging the recommendation.
The victim, who had disturbed marital life, had registered for PhD in 2015 and started pursuing her research under Mathava Kumar from May 2017.
The victime, who has now completed her PhD, has alleged she realised through the telephonic conversation and text messages that the professor was asking for sexual relationship and she should take it in a professional way.
IIT Madras authorities have also confirmed about the sexual harassment lodged against the professor and recommendations made by the CCASH.