Guilty until proven innocent?

In “To sir, with love: University students to protest against prof’s wrongful suspension”, MID-DAY reported that around 1,000 students of Mumbai University had decided to miss class on January 08, 2014, protesting the suspension of Dr Neeraj Hatekar, a professor of Econometrics in the Economics Department at the University of Mumbai. Dr. Hatekar was suspended after he was part of a press conference in December, in which he reported the alleged mismanagement at the varsity and the deterioration of the university’s academic status.

In “Mumbai University is suffering for want of proper academic leadership”, The Times of India reports that Dr. Hatekar had alleged instances of the Vice-Chancellor’s attempts at perjury and false claims, and had exposed the V-C’s incapacity to govern an institution of the size and standard of Mumbai University.

According to his CV, available on Mumbai University’s website, Dr Neeraj Hatekar has been working with the University for 20 years. Since 2008, he has been a Professor. When a senior faculty member made serious allegations against the V-C, the Management Council should have looked into those allegations. If the MC had found the allegations false and/or frivolous and/or motivated, or if his allegations or the manner in which he made them constituted an act of indiscipline, Dr. Hatekar should have been issued a show-cause notice and given a chance to defend himself. Instead, the MC gave the VC their consent to use “emergency powers” to suspend the Professor.

In our country, every person is considered innocent until proven guilty. Even a person accused of crimes like corruption, rape or murder is considered innocent, and it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove him/her guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

However, Dr. Neeraj Hatekar has been declared guilty until proven innocent. He has “submitted a petition to the High Court, questioning the suspension order and asking for it to be revoked.” His students are supporting him in various ways. In addition to protesting, they have started a signature campaign, are planning to meet the state’s Governor, and are trying to garner the support of students from affiliated colleges. The AAP has supported Dr. Hatekar, but it’s not known how much impact their support will have.

Is there anything we can do, other than hoping that Dr. Neeraj Hatekar gets justice?


Everybody is human

On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, Firstpost reported about a blog post by a woman lawyer, in which she stated that she had been sexually harassed by a retired Supreme Court judge in December 2012 when she was an intern with him. reported that the Chief Justice of India had announced an inquiry into the allegations by three Supreme Court judges.

In an interview to Legally India, the woman lawyer said, “There’s this thing: a person who is a Supreme Court judge – you don’t expect a Supreme Court judge to harass somebody.”

This statement reminded me of a conversation many years back.

One afternoon, our General Manager, my colleague and I were returning to office after having attended a long meeting at a customer’s factory. All of a sudden, our GM, who was driving, asked, “Gentlemen, I want to ask you something off the record. I’ve heard some rumours about AJ and his (female) secretary. What do you guys know about this? Tell me whatever you know. Don’t hold back anything.” AJ was a senior member of our sales team.

I replied, “I’ve also heard the same rumours, but I don’t think they’re true. Yes, AJ is much friendlier with his secretary than other executives are with theirs, but in all fairness, AJ is much friendlier with all his juniors than other executives are. I’ve found no reason to believe it’s anything more than that.”

My colleague added, “AJ is married and has two kids. He’s a very decent person. I’m sure he won’t have an extramarital affair.”

Our GM replied, “Maybe the rumours are baseless, but it’s not right to say he won’t have an extramarital affair because he’s a very decent person. He may be a very decent person, but he is human. Everybody is human. And any human being can succumb to temptation.”

Everybody is human. This is a simple truth that many of us ignore at our own peril!

Any human being can succumb to temptation. Any human being can indulge in sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, torture, murder, fraud and other crimes. Education, position, wealth, status, etc. is not necessarily a barrier. Consider the following cases:

Jagriti Singh, a dentist at New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and wife of a MP, was arrested last week for allegedly causing the death of her domestic help and assaulting another.

KPS Gill, former Punjab DGP, recipient of the Padma Shri in 1989, was convicted in 1996 for sexual harassment at a 1988 party.

Asaram Bapu has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram, and is currently under arrest.

Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the 69th Shankaracharya and head/pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, is under trial in two murder cases.

Rajat Gupta, alumnus of IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School, former Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, Inc. was “convicted in June 2012 on insider trading charges of four criminal felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.”

There are many more such examples.

Not all human beings are potential criminals. But, let us all remember:
Everybody is human. And any human being can succumb to temptation.

The message of this blog post is NOT that the aggrieved party should “understand” and hence try to pardon the perpetrator. Any crime and its perpetrator(s) should be dealt with suitably according to the law of the land.
The message of this blog post is: the fact that a person is highly educated and/or well-placed and/or wealthy and/or enjoys a good reputation does NOT mean that person will not succumb to the temptation of committing a crime.
I have issued this clarification in response to Vivek Shesh’s comment.

It’s all just a state of mind!

What’s poverty? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s hunger? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s nakedness? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s homelessness? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s illiteracy? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s murder? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s rape? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s misgovernance? It’s just a state of mind!

What’s corruption? It’s just a state of mind!

Everything’s just a state of mind!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. (Prompt: One sentence should be repeated at least thrice in your post.)