A government institute in Faridabad has sacked a leading scientist after a female colleague alleged that he sexually assaulted her, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Faridabad, an autonomous institute under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, confirmed that Kanury VS Rao’s employment had been terminated. He was the institute’s national chair.
“The governing board has ratified the decision to terminate Rao’s services,” Gagandeep Kang, executive director of the institute, told The Hindu. “It is his decision whether he wants to further pursue the matter in court.”
Rao — a member of three of India’s top science academies and the winner of India’s top science prize Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award — has denied the charges. He said he was innocent and “determined to prove it”.
“The allegations of sexual harassment against me were entirely fabricated and simply represent a case where professional disgruntlement evolved into a larger conspiracy to malign and defame me to eventually effect my removal,” Rao said in a written statement to the press. “Unfortunately, the inquiry committee also solely went by empirical impressions, relying for its findings only on weak circumstantial criteria rather than any real evidence.”
An internal committee had investigated the allegations. Rao had appealed against the committee in the Delhi High Court, saying the panel was “constituted in violation of the Section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Act, 2013.”
Rao’s appeal said the act makes it mandatory for such a panel to have a member from an NGO or associations working for women, or a person familiar with sexual harassment issues. “In the present committee, there was no representative,” Rao said.