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Prestigious Gujarat institute director’s alleged sexual overtures to ex-journalist staffer "tarnishes" IRMA image

The director
By Nachiketa Desai*
A senior staff member of the country’s premier Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), which is based in Gujarat,  has filed a police complaint of sexual harassment against its director.
Indrani Talukdar, former journalist and editor of IRMA’s publications, in her FIR filed with the women’s police of Anand district, has cited five instances of sexual overtures by IRMA director RC Natarajan towards her, some of them even in the presence of other staff members.
Following the FIR, the Anand district police formed a three-member investigation team, headed by a deputy superintendent, which took the statements of five witnessed. The director, meanwhile, has left the campus for an unknown destination.
Talukdar was compelled to approach the police after the management did not initiate any action on her complaint to the institute’s internal sexual harassment complaint committee filed on March 2 on some ‘technical’ pretext.
She sent a mail to IRMA Chairman T Nandakumar, IAS, Bihar cadre, and to some of the members of the Board of Governors of IRMA, after having filed the complaint before the SHCC. This mail was sent on March 6, 2017 about the incidents.
A legal question arose whether the word “employer” defined in the act meant the Director or the Board. “The committee was advised to seek legal advice on this issue to avoid any miscarriage of justice.
The interim legal view was received on March 11, 2017, according to which the ‘Director’ could not be defined as employer and hence the IRMA Board of Governors being the ‘Employer’ was expected to constitute an Internal Complaint Committee,” the office of the chairman explained.
A mail was sent to all members of the IRMA Board of Governors to elicit their view on the constitution of a committee to decide the case. This was informed to the complainant by the chair, SHCC, IRMA on March 14, 2017.
However, the final legal view was that “Director” is the “Employer” and the complaint lay in the jurisdiction of the Local Complaints Committee constituted by the District Magistrate as received on March 17, 2017.
Talukdar then wrote to the chair of the Sexual Harassment Committee stating that based on legal opinion she has filed a complaint before the Local Complaints Committee on March 16. In view of this, the SHCC ceased to have jurisdiction in the matter, Ms Talukdar was informed about this.
“In light of the fact that the complainant filed the case before LCC, Anand, the IRMA Board of Governors did not form any new committee to decide the case. The matter is before the District LCC at this stage. The Board will take a decision, in accordance with the legal provisions, after the report from LCC is received”, the office of IRMA chairman stated.
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*Consulting Editor (Political), United News of India

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