Accused Irshad Bhatti was granted bail but the Vile Parle based college has banned him.
Professor Irshad Bhatti from the Pravin Gandhi College of Law in Vile Parle, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a final-year law student, was arrested and released on bail on Saturday. The college management has, however, have barred him from teaching at the college.
A final-year student had filed a complaint with the Juhu police about an incident that took place during class where the professor allegedly sexually harassed her. Police registered a first information report (FIR) on Friday under the Indian Penal Code Section 354A (sexual harassment) and D (stalking). Other students in the class also stated that Bhatti would frequently behave inappropriately with the female students.
According to the victim, the professor had forced her to give her phone number to him and then passed lewd comments in front of other students. She added that Bhatti would often sit very close to the students and put an arm around their shoulders. “On one occasion, he ran his hand through a girl’s hair to comment on her new hair cut. He would also address students as ‘baby’ and ‘sweetheart’. He would always get close when talking to the female students during class. Even when we tried to bring it to the notice of the principal and the teachers, they just brushed it off,” she said.
She added that the college refused to take action on past complaints that she had made to the principal. “The college does nothing to ensure the safety of students within the premises. I was groped during the college festival by a stranger who got in due to flimsy security. I had registered an FIR with Juhu Police on February 3. Even at that time the college refused to cooperate with me to get the CCTV footage,” she added.
The accused, Bhatti, was arrested on Saturday morning and produced in court where he was granted bail by the magistrate. Rizwan Merchant, the victim’s advocate, stated that the Bhatti’s lawyer had misrepresented the charges. “I am shocked that the magistrate granted him bail on the very first day. His case was misrepresented by his lawyer who stated that the charges were bailable when Section 354 D is a non-bailable charge,” said Merchant.
Though the principal of the college, LB Dwivedi, did not comment on the issue, the trustee of the college, Amrish Patel, stated that Bhatti has been removed as a faculty member.
“He was not a permanent employee but a visiting professor. He has been removed and he will never teach at this college again. However, the girl should have given us a written complaint and we would have taken action against him,” said Patel.