The Kalakshetra Foundation on Tuesday said that it has constituted a committee to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment against one of its assistant professors and three staff members.

The panel will be led by former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Justice K Kannal, Tamil Nadu Director General of Police Letika Saran and Doctor Shobha Varthaman.

On March 30, around 250 students of the Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts had started a protest demanding the dismissal of Hari Padman and three other staff members – Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath. All of them have been accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse.

The students had also claimed that the academy did not take action on complaints against Padman. On March 19, the academy had said that its Internal Complaints Committee had conducted an investigation but found no truth in the complaints.

A first information report was filed against Padman after a former student lodged a complaint against him at an All Women Police station. He was arrested on April 3.

On Tuesday, the Kalakshetra Foundation said Padman has been suspended until the inquiry against him finishes. It also added that the three staff members will be suspended if found guilty.

“The services of Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath, repertory artists, may be dispensed with immediate effect, pending inquiry,” the Board of the institute said.

It also added a new student counsellor and an independent advisory committee will be appointed to strengthen the administration of the Kalakshetra Foundation.

“Kalakshetra Foundation is fully committed to ensuring the safety and security of its students, and providing a secure and inclusive environment for all,” it said.

Internal Complaints Committee member resigns

Advocate BS Ajeetha, a member of the Internal Complaints Committee at the Kalakshetra Foundation, on Tuesday said that she is stepping down from her post, reported The Hindu.

Ajeetha said she was disturbed by the administration’s response towards complaints of sexual harassment against Padman and the three staff members.

“The present atmosphere in the institution and the large-scale discontentment of the women students and staff make me rethink as to whether I should continue to be an external member of the ICC attached to the institute,” Ajeetha said in her resignation letter. “I have my own reservations regarding the responses made by the administrators to the present controversy.”

Ajeetha urged the institute to accept her resignation and added that she hopes better counsel would prevail over the academy’s administration, according to the newspaper.