Civic chief says Dr Shaileshwar Natrajan is only ‘acting dean’ and that his appointment is ‘not official’
Dr Shaileshwar Natrajan, a senior professor at Rajiv Gandhi Medical College, which is attached to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Kalwa, has been appointed acting dean of the college six years after he was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing several female students and staffers. After his suspension in 2014, Dr Natrajan had been arrested by the Kalwa police under Section 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty) of the Indian Penal Code. But he was reinstated, albeit with a demotion, in 2016. However, he took charge as dean on January 9 after Dr Sandhya Khadse, the previous dean, retired.
His appointment came as a shock to students of the college and staffers at the hospital, as many who had complained about his behaviour still study or work there. He also attended the hospital’s flag-hoisting ceremony on Republic Day, prompting many female staffers to boycott the function.
A female staffer, who did not wish to be named, said, “When he was reinstated in 2016 we were told that he had been demoted and an inquiry was on. But now he had become dean of the hospital. How is this possible?”
Another employee said that the court case against Dr Natrajan is ongoing, and that as dean he will have access to important documents related to the case and could thus hamper it.
The decision to appoint him dean was taken by Thane Municipal Commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal. However, he told Mirror that that the appointment was “not official”. “Dr Natrajan has been appointed as acting dean of the hospital but it not an official appointment. We have put out a newspaper advertisement for the vacant dean’s post and once someone who meets the criteria is appointed, Dr Natrajan will be out.”
When asked about the sexual harassment charges against Dr Natrajan, Jaiswal said, “The charges were not proved in a departmental enquiry, so he has been reinstated. Yes, the court matter is on.” Dr Natrajan refused to comment.
Complaints from 20 students, 10 staffers
In April 2014, MBBS students had emailed a complaint to the then dean, alleging that Dr Natrajan had ordered female students to demonstrate breast self-examination in front of the entire class. They also said that during practicals, he would slip his hands inside female patients’ shirts while claiming to explain the technicalities of dealing with chest ailments. The email, which was also forwarded to the Thane police commissioner, sparked numerous other complaints of sexual harassment against Dr Natrajan by students and staffers. Twenty students and 10 staffers lodged complaints against him with the college-cum-hospital’s anti-sexual harassment committee.
A month later the committee found him guilty. It submitted the report to the then dead and the Thane municipal commissioner and Dr Natrajan was suspended. He was arrested by the Kalwa police but was out on bail a month later. A subsequent inquiry by the Thane municipal corporation in 2016 found him not guilty, after which he was reinstated with a demotion.