FTII director denies victimizing anyone, says the student is trying to obfuscate matters after being hauled up for seeking external help on a project.
FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola responds, says complainant was found guilty of misconduct
Mumbai - 26 Oct 2018 12:37 IST
A student of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) had written to the internal complaints committee (ICC) of the institute, FTII chairperson Anupam Kher and the Union information and broadcasting ministry accusing director Bhupendra Kainthola of intimidation and obstructing her growth because she had raised her voice against a professor, Nilanjan Dutta, accused of sexual harassment.
The student, who did not reveal her name in the e-mail, hit out at Kainthola, Dutta and another teacher, Debkamal Ganguly, for allegedly trying to sabotage her marks.
Kainthola has now hit back. In a statement, the director revealed that the student was found guilty of misconduct for using external help on a project, and an inquiry committee set up by the FTII took action against her. He said the young woman was mixing up the issue of sexual harassment with her own misconduct.
"It is unfortunate that the student has released a statement unnecessarily dragging the ICC into a purely academic matter where action was taken by the FTII administration after she was found guilty of professional misconduct by an inquiry committee," he said in the statement. "The one-sided statement is misleading and entirely at variance with facts."
The FTII director gave a detailed account of the alleged misconduct of the student. “There is no connection between the case dealt with by the ICC after she complained of misbehaviour against a male classmate, and the case wherein she was proceeded against after it was discovered that she had taken unauthorized external assistance while completing her academic 'dialogue film' exercise," he said.
According to the director, a three-member inquiry committee was set up to look into an incident pertaining to the 'dialogue film' exercise of the student after she and a student of the sound department conspired and made an "unsuccessful, unethical" attempt to replace the sound mix of the film by an unauthorized sound work.
The committee set up to enquire into the matter found that she had attempted to bypass the norms and discipline of the 'dialogue film' exercise and shown scant respect for her department, including the direction department mentor appointed for the exercise.
The committee concluded that the "case is of a serious breach of trust, lack of respect, breaking of norms, severe disregard for general and academic discipline by the student", Kainthola said in his statement.
Elaborating on the action taken by the committee, he said, “The committee recommended strict disciplinary action against her in the form of non-grant of any kind of scholarship, non-participation in any kind of student exchange programme, and non-participation of her dialogue film or further exercises and projects in any film festival till the end of her academic tenure at the FTII."
The committee also "strongly recommended that she should be expelled from all academic activities for a specific period".
In accordance with the recommendations of the committee, the FTII initiated action against the student, he said.
Strongly denying the student’s allegation that she was being victimized and he was creating a hostile environment, Kainthola said, "In the light of the above facts, the allegation by her about 'creating a hostile work environment for me, intimidating me and obstructing my work in FTII because I raised my voice against sexual harassment' is wild and imaginary. It begs credibility. This is an attempt to cover up her act of professional fraud for which she was found guilty by the inquiry committee.
“Through her statement, she has tried to obfuscate matters by mixing up two unconnected issues involving her. It is reiterated that any complaint of sexual harassment from a teacher, staff or student is taken by FTII with the seriousness it deserves. All complaints are turned over to the ICC without delay. Once the ICC submits its report FTII takes action entirely in accordance with the recommendations in the report,” the director said.
Asked about the allegations against Dutta, Ganguly and the classmate who allegedly harassed the student, Kainthola said, "Nilanjan has been removed from service based on a report of the ICC. This committee comprised four women and the FTII chairperson. You can check with any professor, Dutta has not returned to the institute.
"As for her classmate, he has been serving his three months' suspension. We acted as per the ICC report, who stated that the man is barred from the hostel. He has not been removed from the institute. Such decisions are taken by the ICC, not us.”
About the allegation against Ganguly, he said. “Since I am not part of the committee that looks into these matters, it is not right for me to comment. She might have raised those concerns with the academic committee that looked into her alleged misconduct. I have no knowledge of it.”