Amidst public outcry, the Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad has suspended Assistant Professor Srinivas Methuku, four months after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him.
The administration claims that the suspension was carried out on October 16. However, it was only made public on Monday, after a ‘statement of truth’ as an advertorial was published in city newspapers.
University spokesperson Vidya Yeravdekar said that the investigation is still underway and that Srinivas has been suspended until the probe has reached a conclusion. She said that the decision for his suspension was taken by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Rajani Gupte. “The action was taken by the VC as per the interim recommendation of the Internal Complaints Committee. After the investigation is completed, the VC will take a final decision,” she told TNM.
Eight female students had reportedly deposed before the Internal Complaints Committee on October 15 and said that they felt discomfort around Srinivas, as he ogled at their breasts.
In its statement, the administration also said that Apoorva and Snigdha, the two students evicted from their hostels, have no relation to the sexual harassment complaint against Srinivas Methuku.
“It is therefore evident that the students are trying to mis-represent the facts. It is important to note that this was orchestrated to divert the attention from the core issue of disciplinary misconduct by these students and derive benefits of exemption from TNG/CNG (Term not granted/ Course not granted).”
The university accused Apoorva and Snigdha of performing poorly in their academics and also having low attendance. The university said that they were evicted from their hostel on October 26 on grounds of misconduct after they had a spat with the security on April 26 for not letting them to leave the campus. The university said that the decision to evict them from hostel was taken by the Campus Disciplinary Committee following an inquiry. However, the two students claim that they were evicted because they had written a Facebook post against Srinivas and for pointing out the indifference of the administration while handling cases of sexual harassment.
Additionally, the students said they have been orally rusticated from the university, but have not received an official notice.
“Shashikala Gurpur, the dean, clearly told me that I would be rusticated if I don’t remove the Facebook post against the institution and Srinivas, and give an undertaking,” alleged Apoorva.
Responding to the suspension of Srinivas, Snighda told TNM that none of the respondents were informed about it. “We asked for the progress in the case to Head of Students’ Affairs through mail on October 23. However, the response we received was, ‘we will revert shortly,’ said Snigdha.