St Stephens Molestation Case: Audio Recording Allegedly Has College Principal Pressuring Complainant

03/07/2015 6:11 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Rudra Court - Staircase N where I used to live; Vice-Principal's residence to the left.

NEW DELHI -- The emergence of a new audio tape in the St Stephens molestation case has triggered a fresh row over the shameful incident that allegedly took place in the premises of the renowned college. The female research student, who has alleged that she was molested by her PhD guide, has submitted an audio clipping to Delhi Police where the Stephens principal Valson Thampu allegedly asks her to "take back" her complaint and encourages her to rethink if she wants to go ahead with the sexual harassment allegations.

Police on Friday said it was evaluating the evidence provided by the woman.

"Whenever any evidence in given to us by the complainant, we evaluate the evidence. We will evaluate the audio clip, if we find anything incriminatory then we will take appropriate action," Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi told media persons here.

Court Stays Professor's Arrest

Meanwhile Delhi High Court today has ordered a stay on Kumar's arrest till August 17. The court also sought a reply from police on a plea by Kumar seeking anticipatory bail in the case.

Justice Indermeet Kaur also issued notice to Delhi Police on Kumar's plea directing it to file a status report with regard to the progress made in the investigation of the case before next date of hearing.

"Notice. Status report be filed by the respondent (Delhi Police). Meanwhile, the petitioner (Kumar) should join the investigation as and when asked by the respondent," the judge said, adding that till next date of hearing, August 17, the petitioner will not be arrested.

Read: Professor Steps Down From Post Of Bursar

The court's order came on the plea filed by Kumar, an Assistant Professor in the college's Chemistry Department, challenging the trial court's June 23 order by which the relief sought by him was declined.

Senior advocate N Hariharan, appearing for Kumar, sought anticipatory bail, claiming that the allegations levelled by the girl were "concocted" and there was not a single eyewitness to any of the incidents mentioned in the complaint.

Hariharan, also assisted by advocate Nitin Kumar Swaroop, informed the court that most of the allegations levelled by the girl were of October 2013 and the mail she had annexed in the complaint clearly says that her work was not in progress so she had sought help from the accused.

"No allegation of molestation was levelled in the mail or the complaint she (girl) wrote to the college principal. The allegation levelled in the FIR were false and fabricated," Kumar's counsel said.

Kumar's plea for relief also stated that the professor could not have molested or followed the girl as he was 85 per cent physically disabled and walked with the help of a stick.

Calls For Thampu's Resignation

Ashish Joshi, the media coordinator of the Association of Old Stephanians, on Friday said that principal Valson Thampu should be immediately sacked following the complaint that he attempted to shield Kumar.

"As Stephanians, we are aghast and shocked that our principal of such a prestigious college has stooped to such a level that he has been pressurising the sexual harassment victim to take back her complaint and hash up the matter. Yesterday, she has filed the recordings of the conversation with Mr. Thampu and Satish Kumar where they can be heard saying that and pressurising her to take down her case and Satish Kumar saying that I will complete your PhD," Joshi said to ANI.

He said that Thampu does not deserve to be the principal even for a single day.

"In fact, the association of Old Stephanians have issued a press release and we have demanded that the supreme body and the governing council of St. Stephens College should immediately sack the principal. And we have also sought action against Vice Chancellor, Mr. Dinesh Singh, of Delhi University for turning a blind eye because this is the fifth sexual harassment case in our college and all previous four cases have been hushed up like this," said Joshi.

"And the reason for this is also that Mr. Thampu has been emboldened because eminent Stephanians like Mani Shankar Iyer, Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Manmohan Sarin (former judge and now a member of the governing body), have just turned a blind eye and ignored the illegalities of Mr. Thampu," he added.

Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Friday staged a protest outside the college, climbing trees and compound of the college while waving ABVP flags. The Delhi University's Students Union (DUSU) too today staged a protest, demanding Thampu's resignation.

However, Delhi University today said it is the college's internal matter and the varsity has no say in it.

"St Stephen's college is a minority institution run by the Church of North India. It is an internal matter of the college which has to be dealt by them in accordance with the act of Parliament on sexual harassment," a senior varsity official said.

"DU has no say in the matter and the college's Governing Body (GB) is the supreme administrative body to take any action in this regard."

The HRD ministry also refused to intervene in the matter saying such issues are to be handled by the institution's Internal Complaints Committee as per Supreme Court guidelines.

A research scholar at St Stephen's had approached police on June 19 alleging that she was molested by Satish Kumar, a professor in the college's Chemistry department.

The complainant has also accused Stephen's principal Valson Thampu of shielding the accused and "criminally intimidating" her to close the matter in the college itself in order to not cause any delay or problems in the completion of her Ph.D.

The student had on June 19 lodged an FIR, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by her PhD guide and that the college principal tried to protect him when the matter was reported to the college authorities.

In a seven-page complaint that an assistant professor had harassed her for two years.

(with agency inputs)

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