A suspended dance professor of Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, arrested on a charge of sexual harassment, has been released on bail, police said on Tuesday, 6 June.
Hari Padman, who was accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment, was arrested on 3 April by the city police following a complaint from a former student of the college.
He was granted bail by a Metropolitan Magistrate court at Saidapet here on 3 June, a senior police official said.
Established in 1936, the Kalakshetra promotes fine arts. In 1993, the Union government passed a Bill, recognising it as an institute of national importance. Kalakshetra is an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Culture.
In March, now-suspended assistant professor Hari Padman was accused of sexual harassment by a former student.
Taking cognizance of the reports of alleged sexual misconduct the National Commission for Women (NCW) has directed the Tamil Nadu police chief to file a First Information Report (FIR) report against the accused, and the director of the institute.
Kalakshetra refutes allegations
National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma, on 21 March, urged the state Director General of Police to book the teacher. The panel asked the police to file an FIR against the director for allegedly shielding the accused teacher.
Refuting the charges of sexual harassment levelled against one of its faculty members, the Kalakshetra Foundation on 25 March, urged the NCW to consider the actions the premier art institute has already initiated.
Foundation Chairman S Ramadorai condemned the “scurrilous campaign” being carried out on social media to malign the institute’s reputation.
In the statement, the Kalakshetra management said: “The foundation has a robust and active Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), constituted as per the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Visakha’s case, which comprises of the director, two faculty members/teachers, and an experienced lady lawyer.”
It also said a detailed inquiry was conducted over two and a half months to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.
“It was found that the allegations were unfounded. During this period, Kalakshetra Foundation has not received any active complaints as per the guidelines of the PoSH,” it added.
Following the statement, NCW wrote to the DGP to close the complaint.
“Till someone comes forward and complains, how can we move forward? There are contradictory reports, and no one has come to us till now to complain. Contradictory reports are coming in from the on media and social media,” NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma had told South First.
Students protest and CM stalin’s assurance
The students of the institue protested seeking the dismissal of four senior faculty members accused of sexual misconduct.
The protest found resonance in the state Legislative Assembly on 31 March. Chief Minister MK Stalin assured the House that he would initiate a probe.
The Chennai City Police arrested an assistant professor of Kalakshetra, Hari Padman, on 3 April. Based on a complaint by a former student on the charges of sexual harassment.
A woman who had studied at Kalakshetra, filed a complaint before the Adayar police stating that the assistant professor had harassed her via text messages and voice calls, in 2019.
Based on her complaint, the Adayar police booked him the same day under Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 4 (the penalty for harassment of woman) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.
The Governing Board of the Kalakshetra Foundation also accepted the demands of protesting students. Including the dismissal of three members of the faculty accused of sexual harassment.
(With PTI inputs)