Hyderabad: Assistant Professor at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, Srinivas Methuku has been accused of sexual misconduct by a student. In a written complaint to the Union ministry of women & child development, the student said the professor ogled at her breasts and private parts. She said the management brushes aside complaints of sexual harassment within the campus.
A committee from the law school in Pune visited the Hyderabad campus and, shockingly, has asked the two female students to give an undertaking that they will take back the complaint and pull down a social post that allegedly defames the institution and the professor, the student told this newspaper.
Narrating the incident, the student stated in the complaint (a copy of which is in the possession of this newspaper): “Methuku Sir, had the habit of looking at girl's breasts was not new in the college. One day I had to stand and beg in front of him to give me an extension for my project submission (since he is the examination head). While I was explaining to him, he was very conveniently looking at my crotch and breast. He kept staring, until I yelled at him, “My face is here, Sir!” That day I felt powerless, I felt weak in my knees. I was tearing up. He didn’t touch me but he managed to gauge my soul, out of his x-ray eyes, as we had only learnt about bad touch. I didn't know how to react to such a situation. Those eyes disgust me. His position makes me barf”.
One of the complaints told this newspaper, “There was a complaint registered by XYZ and myself (both students) with the ministry about how Symbiosis has not handled the case of sexual harassment properly. We have filed a case against the head of examination and assistant professor Srinivas Methuku based on multiple complaints that he was causing discomfort to women.
“We are not sure whether a proper investigation was conducted before he was ‘severely reprimanded’, because he was made a member of the grievance redressal committee for the academic year 2018-19!”, said one of the complainants.
The complainants further added, “We have heard stories of sexual misconduct in the campus from our collegemates. There was an Instagram story alleging that Professor Srinivas has allegedly misbehaved with a female student."
When this correspondent contacted students, some of them said the professor no longer causes any discomfort to students. Despite the complaints, the professor holds two key positions in SLU: he is in charge of examinations.
The SLU has constituted an internal complaints committee that heard complaints on sexual harassment on October 15. The committee included two women professors, two members of NGOs and two observers from Pune. The report of the fact-finding committee will be given to the officiating director Dr Sukhvinder Singh Dari.
The two complainants gave their statement to the committee. "I was asked by the student affairs head if I was ever sexually harassed. We were told to concentrate on our exams. The concerns we raised are still valid," one of the students said.
A source revealed that the SLU has still not sent the report to the ministry. When this correspondent contacted the principal director of SLU, Ms Vidya, she gave an astonishing statement: "There is a rift between the students and the management. These are not complaints given on paper but on a Facebook post (a complaint has been given on paper to the ministry). The internal complaints committee (ICC) has been corresponding with the complainant and the matter is under investigation.”
She then went on to claim that "SLU acts sternly against sexual harassment. The ICC is in contact with the Ministry through the registrar. Many students in the wake of the #MeToo campaign have come up with allegations that need to be investigated. Many students who have low attendance are trying to raise issues against the law school."
The SLU registrar, Dr M.S. Shejul said: “A detailed inquiry was conducted by ICC of the institute on the complain about Asst Professor Srinivas Methuku ogling and causing discomfort to female students. The director of the institute taking due cognizance of the matter has severely reprimanded the said faculty and ensured it is not repeated anywhere with anybody.”