Delhi Court grants bail to JNU professor Atul Johri in sexual harassment cases

New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor Atul Johri, who was arrested for sexual harassment of several women students, was on Tuesday granted bail by a Delhi court.

Duty magistrate Ritu Singh granted bail to Johri and directed him to furnish a bail bond of Rs 30,000 for each of the eight FIRs registered against him. “It is settled proposition of the law that bail, not jail is the rule except where the circumstances are suggestive of fleeing of accused from justice or thwarting the cause of justice or repetition of offences,” said the court.

It took into account the fact that the statement of the complainant had already been recorded by a judicial magistrate. “For foregoing reasons, I’m of the opinion that no purpose would be served by keeping the accused in custody, accordingly accused admitted to bail on his furnishing bail bond in the sum of Rs 30,000 with one surety of like amount,” the court, which granted him bail in as many eight similar cases, said.

It also imposed various conditions on Johri, including that he would have to appear as and when his presence is sought in a court of law. “He shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat… the complainant/any person acquainted with the facts of the case…,” it said, adding that, the professor shall not tamper with the evidence and assist the police in the case.

“I’m a victim of politics,” Johri told the court during the hearing. Advocate R K Wadhwa, appearing for Johri, had moved a bail plea saying sending him to jail would spoil his career. Students, professors and women rights organisations have been protesting, demanding his arrest, after some students accused him of sexual harassment.

An FIR was filed against the Department of Life Sciences professor based on one of the eight complaints from women students. In his bail plea, Johri said that in compliance with certain UGC guidelines with regard to compulsory attendance and leave pattern, he had sent an e-mail on February 27 to certain students, including the complainant (student), warning them against their irregular attendance pattern.

“In order to ensure that the applicant (Johri) is unable to take any action against them owing to their attendance issues, the complainant (student) herein in connivance with certain other female students, while levelling upon various frivolous allegations, got the present false FIR registered against the applicant,” the bail plea said.

He also pointed out that woman and her other “accomplices” never made any sort of complaint or representation with the Internal Complaints Committee of the JNU with regard to the alleged harassment. He also said that the allegations levelled by the woman pertains to 2013-14 but the FIR was registered in 2018. “There is an unexplainable inordinate delay of four years in the registration of the FIR,” he told the court.

Johri said the FIR was a counterblast to falsely implicate him. Before receiving the e-mail pertaining to her attendance, the complainant had cordial relations with him and his wife, and she even celebrated birthdays and festivals with them, he said. After JNU students held a mass protest outside Vasant Kunj Police Station yesterday, women rights organisations including All India Democratic Women’s Association and All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan today held protest outside the police station demanding arrest of the professor.

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