sexual harassment
Students allege the Vile Parle-based college has turned a blind eye to previous complaints against the professor, who was a ‘repeat offender’.

A final-year student from Pravin Gandhi College of Law in Vile Parle has filed a complaint of sexual harassment against a professor on Thursday. Other students in the class have now come forward to say that the professor was a repeat offender, and added that the college management has turned a blind eye towards previous complaints.

A visiting professor at the college, Irshad Bhatti, teaches alternative disputes resolution systems, a compulsory paper for the final-year students.

According to another final-year student, Bhatti, 40, has been showing inappropriate behaviour during class since January when he started taking classes. “He frequently makes very dirty comments with sexual innuendos. He is always trying to inch closer to female students making them feel very uncomfortable,” said one of the finalyear students.

Students said that complaints about Bhatti’s behaviour as well as other non-teaching staff members have been ignored by the principal, LR Dwivedi. “One of the students had submitted a written complaint to the principal a few weeks ago. But no action was taken,” she added.

Other students added that there was no functional women’s cell in the college where such concerns could be raised. Failing to get cooperation from the administration, the students are planning to take up the issue with the University next week.

According to the complainant’s statement, Bhatti sexually harassed her in front of another girl on Thursday morning. Confirming the incident, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 9), Vinayak Deshmukh, said, “We have registered an FIR against the professor under the Indian Penal Code Section 354A (sexual harassment). We are yet to arrest him as he is untraceable.” Deshmukh added that the victim’s friend has also given a statement as a witness in the case.

Though the principal, Dwivedi, could not be reached, Amreesh Patel, a senior member of SVKM Trust which runs the college, said: “I will look into the matter and we will take the strict action against the perpetrator. Such action will not be tolerated at all.”