Homeindia-newsRebuild panel, give details of its members: Madras HC to Kalakshetra |...

Rebuild panel, give details of its members: Madras HC to Kalakshetra | Latest News India



Chennai: The Madras high court on Wednesday directed the Kalakshetra Foundation to produce profiles of members in the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted earlier on April 3 and to frame a new policy which includes parents and teachers and then reconstitute the ICC.

The students in their petition have sought a safe learning environment and a redressal mechanism to deal with complaints on campus. (FILE)
The students in their petition have sought a safe learning environment and a redressal mechanism to deal with complaints on campus. (FILE)

Justice M Dhandapani passed the interim order on a joint petition filed by seven students of the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts run by Kalakshetra. The premium performing arts institution in Chennai has been in the spotlight after students went on protests alleging sexual harassment by four teachers out of which one accused, Hari Padman was arrested. The students in their petition have sought a safe learning environment and a redressal mechanism to deal with complaints on campus.

Senior counsel R Vaigai appearing for the petitioners emphasised that the ICC in Kalakshetra is not in consonance with the provisions of law under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act, 1998, the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015 and the various guidelines of the Central and State Governments, the National Commission for Children, the Central Civil Services Rules.

Justice Dhandapani passed three instructions in his interim order- for Kalakshetra to “place the profiles relating to the members of the ICC constituted” on April 3 before the court by June 7. Secondly, for Kalakshetra to frame a policy and constitute the Complaints Committee with respect to the schools run by it, both CBSE and state board, keeping in mind the provisions of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act and other legislations. “….and care shall be taken to include the parents and teachers in the Complaints Committee, which would be constituted in furtherance of the said policy framed,” the court said in its orders. Thirdly, the judge clarified a point in his previous interim order passed on April 17 that Kalakshetra must not take any coercive action against students and faculty who had raised concerns during a sensitisation meeting on campus conducted by the previous ICC on January 3.

“Having heard the learned senior counsel appearing for the parties at length, this court, before passing final orders on the contentions advanced by the parties, is of the considered view, that certain interim directions need to be passed calling upon certain information based upon which this court could holistically consider the issue in the interest of the petitioners, the other students, individuals concerned as also the institution,” the court said in its orders.

The case has been adjourned to June 7. Assistant professor Padman was the first to be accused for several months by students of the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts (in the Kalakshetra campus) but the foundation sought to dismiss their claims. On March 19, Kalakshetra’s administration released a statement that said their ICC found no truth in the allegations.

Kalakshetra’s students began protesting on March 30 demanding that four teachers including Padman be suspended for alleged sexual harassment against female and male students. The protest was temporarily called off on March 31 following the intervention of the head of the Tamil Nadu state women commission AS Kumari.

Padman was arrested by Chennai police earlier this month and was subsequently suspended pending inquiry. The remaining three alleged perpetrators Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath “may be dispensed with immediate effect”, read the institute’s statement in early April.





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