The alleged victim has moved to NCW to seek justice after failing a legal battle against Loyola College Management and the police.
After failing to get justice in the legal battle against Loyola College management and the police, an alleged victim of sexual harassment case has moved National Women Commission (NCW) seeking action against her predator and the college principal, secretary, and three others for making false narratives, destroying evidence and indulging in a smear campaign.
If we quote Uma Anandan, Temple protection movement activist, “The JNU of Tamil Nadu–The Loyola College is the cradle for Urban Naxals in Kollywood, Print media & Many Tamil Tv channels. Loyola College, Chennai, is the vice -dean, and don in the above realm. Ever since its inception supposedly on temple land, which itself is not a good beginning by any respectable standard for an educational institution that is supposed to impart values to its students. Controversy is nothing new for this Christian minority college, which receives a sizable subsidy from the central government's university grants commission (UGC). Thanks to British plans, large swaths of property belonging to temples, particularly in Madras, Madurai, and Tirunelveli towns, were handed up to the Jesuit administration for establishing schools, colleges, and hospitals." Incidentally, the 99-year lease of temple land to the college is coming to end this year. Uma Anandan, among others, is fighting for the retrieval of land back to the temple.
Last December, in a suo motto decision, the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women has ordered Chennai’s Loyola College to pay compensation (with interest and without delay) of Rs 64.30 lakhs to former staff. It covers remuneration for 81 months, damages for mental agony, unkind words of sexual harassment, and filing a false complaint against the victim. Upon appeal from management, the HC issued an interim stay on the commission’s orders.
Now another faculty member’s tale of woes has come open. Josephine Jeyashanthi, in a telephonic conversation with your Correspondent, narrated her 13-year-old legal with the Loyola management. She recalled, “I had joined Loyola College in 2006 as a professor in the department of media arts, which was a new master’s course. The very next year, I was shifted to the Tamil department orally as an assistant professor. I have MA and M.Phil degrees in Tamil along with other qualifications. I am a writer. I have trained in media exposure as well and thus they initially put me there. In 2008, Anthony Rajarajan, whom we used to call S.A. Rajarajan, became the HoD, Tamil department. I was assigned some other duties apart from teaching in the Tamil department; I was the coordinator at one of the students’ clubs. We brought many laurels to the college by working for the betterment of downtrodden communities. It was recorded by then Principal”
Josephine recounted, “I was provided with a separate cabin outside the Tamil department and I used to be there always. From day one, Dr. S. Anthony Rajarajan made sexual advances. To avoid such him, I ensured some students were always with me. Whenever I applied for leaves because of the ongoing projects, he would throw the leave application on my face because he had expressed his sexual demands to me, but I was not ready to give in. I was adamant about my stand. In front of students and other staff members, he used to say appalling things to me. From asking me to satisfy his sexual needs, to say that I was lying dry without my husband in front of students and other staff members. I can’t even express it in words. He used extremely filthy language. He used to call me a whore, and a prostitute in front of the students, shout at me and, make me cry every day. I used to be in my class but, Anthony told the management that I was not taking my classes at the time.”
The victim said, “Once, he harassed me sexually to the core that I was hospitalized after that incident and had to take treatment. One of my students, who witnessed the entire episode, took me to the hospital. He had even recorded the incident which he produced as proof when he was called to testify before the committee formed to investigate my sexual harassment accusation”.
Josephine finally lodged a formal complaint on December 13, 2012, to the official anti-sexual harassment committee, which was formed at the beginning of the academic year and the same was printed in the handbook of Loyola College for the academic year 2012-13. The Secretary of Loyola College, Albert Williams, urged her to withdraw the complaint, but Josephine stated then that she might consider it if Antony Rajarajan issued her a written apology. The result of this was that “Prof S A Rajarajan circulated in the entire campus a highly derogatory note comprising about 60 false accusations against me, showing me in an unpleasant light. The management did not take any action against this improper act of Prof S A Rajarajan”. As per the Vishaka Guidelines 1997 (6) SCC Page no. 241, the College administration should have taken proper steps against the delinquent, Dr. S A Rajarajan. To date, she was not given the report.
“After court directions, the local police called me many times to the police station in the name of inquiry, but they were given the royal treatment. The police recorded statements and without filing, FIR closed the case. Prince plotted with Antony Rajarajan to kill me at the Nungambakkam railway station. However, the attempt was foiled as I luckily received a tip-off. Dr. G Joseph Anthony Samy SJ, the then principal, and Correspondent cum secretary Father Albert Williams supported delinquent Rajan in all ways to bury the case as it would affect the image of the institution. They destroyed all available evidence. Issued threats to the witnesses. “The principal dictated the letters and made them write a completely different statement, which is unethical. Revathy Robert, office Superintendent Rosaline, and Anniappan were deposed against me falsely in front of the committee and before the police. The management brought in Ms. Revathy Robert, who was not a witness to the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee, a witness. Revathy Robert deposed stating she was a former student of the college and was a staff in the college, whereas the truth is, she was never a former student nor a permanent staff of the College in the Department of Tamil, till Josephine was working in Loyola. For this, she was rewarded with a permanent job on the campus. Based on the false depositions, police concluded that there was no prima facie. The report was not given to me,” said Josephine.
“As per the Vishaka Guidelines 1997 (6) SCC Page no. 241, the College administration should have taken proper steps against the delinquent, Dr. S A Rajarajan. The College management did not take any action against him. They tried to stall the inquiry and did not allow the anti-sexual harassment committee to probe her complaint. I have sent at least nine emails to the college administration from January 22, 2013, to March 3, 2013, urging them to allow the anti-sexual harassment committee to probe her complaint against Rajarajan, but to no avail.” she recollected.
“The committee did not take any action against Rajarajan for his despicable actions. Thus, the Loyola College administration had effectively committed a serious crime by facilitating the accused to vilify the victim. Due to my continuous persistence, the college finally on March 19, 2013, allowed the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee to probe her case. The committee submitted its report to the management on March 23, 2013. On the final day of the academic year 2012-13, Fr B Jeyaraj told me that the new Principal Fr G Joseph Antonysamy would take appropriate action, but the new Principal did not serve me the report of the committee and did not take any initiative to take action”, stated Josephine.
The victims were forced to file a Criminal Original Petition (CRL OP No. 4427/2014) asking the court to direct the police to file an FIR against the perpetrators. Soon after this, on February 28, 2014, Josephine was sacked from service without prior notice and with no valid reason. When she confronted the college administration and demanded to know why she was fired, Albert Williams, the Secretary of Loyola College, told her that the college was a “Christian minority institution” and that they didn’t have to give anyone a reason. “I am also from a minority Christian community, but this cannot be an excuse to carry out such heinous crimes. This gang of criminals has to be made to understand that they cannot misuse the privilege given to them by the Constitution. I was humiliated in front of students and forced to vacate the campus around 3 p.m. on the same day with no delay,” Josephine said, shocked with words.
On one hand, the Loyola College Secretary Rev Fr Albert Williams informed the court that the internal complaints committee made the ‘verbal’ sexual harassment out and that the college management imposed a punishment of ‘censure’ on Antony Rajarajan. They had submitted the punishment order copy of the punishment as proof. But according to the victim that she was subjected to physical harassment as well. In written correspondence to the police in response to the Criminal Original Petition, the college secretary claimed that "sexual harassment never occurred" and made false claims, claiming that "Josephine and Rajarajan were excellent friends" who were "separated because of some difficulty." He reportedly told the police that Josephine “was trying to take revenge”.
According to her,” the Loyola college management submitted the report of another committee headed by one Dr. Soosai Sebastian SJ that enquired the corruption charges against Rajarajan to the Police, hiding the official anti-sexual harassment committee original report. The College management has manipulated the issue by giving the wrong report and has deliberately misguided the Police Department”, alleged the former lecturer of the college”.
It is now clear how the Loyola college administration went all out to protect her sexual predators. It tried to mislead the judiciary by giving different versions to the court and the police.
The university that receives UGC funding never brought the issue to their attention, and the Ministry of Human Resources Department.
“I plan to move NCW to order for a retrial in my complaints. Despite HC intervention, twice the police acted in collusion with the management to protect the image of the college and not to bother the ordeal of a middle-class woman who was rendered jobless and spending money to fight cases and facing the society, family, and friends with mental agony. But the predator is roaming free, retired with all benefits.”
Unveiling her future course of action, she said, “I want to see these criminals behind bars. I will drag them to court. They’ve been exploiting women like me for years. Many victims before me, and even after me, lacked the courage to confront the institution's big fish. Someone has to show these criminals their place. I plan to petition the National Commission for Women and write to the state CM cell, urging it to take action against the college and its authorities.”
In compensation matters, the NCW has written to the provincial chairperson of Loyola College to look into an issue of sexual harassment of women and ensure compliance with the orders of the Madras High Court following a media report.