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?

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7 thoughts on “Guilty until proven innocent?

  1. The Bombay University has lost its halo that lasted thru its centenary. The record of its VCs is dismal, gaffes galore, forged degree certificates and what have you in misdemeanours of all kinds. god only can help!

  2. Reeks of dirty work. Those people who used their emergency powers are probably guilty. Considering the kind of cases we see these days, (notably that postman’s) I don’t know what will help.

    • Fortunately, Dr. Hatekar has the support of many students. AAP has also taken a stand in his favour. CNN-IBN devoted quite a bit of time to this matter yesterday. (I don’t know about other channels.)

      More than who is right and who is wrong, it is necessary that proper procedure must be followed. This matter definitely did not call for bypassing of the usual procedure by using emergency powers.

  3. That’s the problem with this country. We punish those who are innocent and we let go the real criminals/wrong-doers. But I’m glad that he at least has the support of his students. The best reward of being a teacher. In cases like ours, in the corporate world, we would die with the ‘guilty’ tag only to be proved innocent to may be our third or fourth generation grandchildren.

    • In the corporate world, other than union staff, it’s generally each person to himself/herself. Almost all the time, nobody speaks up when another person is victimised. The only person who feels bad about this is the victim, who also realises that (s)he did not speak up for past victims.

  4. Pingback: Dr. Neeraj Hatekar reinstated by Mumbai University | Proactive Indian

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