A former assistant professor of St Xavier’s University in Kolkata said she will file a writ petition in the High Court next week against the institution’s authorities, 10 months after she was allegedly forced to resign over “objectionable and inappropriate Instagram photos”, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

The assistant professor, who holds doctorate degrees from two European universities, claimed that Vice-Chancellor Felix Raj and Registrar Asish Mitra intimidated, bullied and made “sexually-coloured remarks” about her during a “kangaroo court” held on October 7.

The two officials have not responded to calls and messages from The Indian Express.

The academic was in swimwear in four or five photos she had posted on Instagram, which she had clicked in her room, the Hindustan Times reported.

The assistant professor said that images were posted on Instagram Story in June 2021, two months before she joined the university. Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours unless a user archives them on their account. Thus, she was confused as to how the photographs were sourced. She also said her profile is private – her posts can only be viewed by her followers.

She also claimed that she was asked to pay Rs 99 crore for “causing immense and irreparable damage” to the university through her photos, the Hindustan Times reported.

The assistant professor lodged a complaint about the alleged sexual harassment and suspected hacking of her private Instagram account against the university administration in the Purba Jadavpur police station on October 24, 2021, The Wire reported.

She told the police that on October 7 last year, the vice chancellor informed her about the complaint from a first-year student’s father, who had objected to her Instagram photos.

In his complaint, the father said: “Recently, I was appalled to find my son looking at some pictures of Prof. [….] where she has posed in a sexually explicit way causing deliberate public exposure,” The Indian Express reported.

He added: “…It is obscene, vulgar and improper for an 18-year-old student to see his professor dressed in scanty clothes exhibiting her body on a public platform.”

After the complaint was read out to the assistant professor, a paper with thumbnails of some images was circulated across the meeting room. The professor was asked to verify whether they were her photos, which she did. However, she was not told how those photographs had been obtained or if the student was looking at the pictures that were circulated in the meeting.

“It is a mystery to me till date how the university accessed those pictures,” she said in her complaint, according to The Indian Express. “I felt so distressed and humiliated at that moment that I couldn’t bear to examine the rest of the pictures. I was in a meeting where my private pictures were being circulated among people unknown to me, without my consent.”

“The only way in which such Instagram stories can be accessed by other parties is by hacking or if someone took screenshots of the pictures when they had been posted and subsequently circulated them…” the assistant professor said in her complaint.

In her resignation letter, she said that the university has not assured her that the photos will be destroyed.

“Instead, arbitrary and primitive standards of ‘morality’ have been used to shame and objectify my photographs and my body…,” she said.