Four professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, have been booked for allegedly harassing a Dalit colleague, PTI reported on Monday. A first information report has been filed against them on charges of defamation and under relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Subrahmanyam Saderla, an assistant professor in the department of aerospace, had in January filed a complaint with the institute and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes against the four faculty members. The commission asked the institute to file a case against the professors, but they obtained a stay from the Allahabad High Court in April. The four accused are Ishan Sharma, Sanjay Mittal, Rajiv Shekhar and Chandrashekhar Upadhyay. Professor Rajiv Shekhar is now the director of IIT Dhanbad.

In August, an inquiry panel set up by the institute, led by a retired judge, found the professors guilty. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes then ordered that a case be filed against the professors, but the Allahabad High Court stayed that order, too, after one of the accused filed a plea. The institute was still in the process of initiating action against the four when Saderla filed the police complaint on Sunday, reported the Hindustan Times.

In his complaint, Saderla accused the four professors of spreading rumours that he had benefited from the reservation policy for the Scheduled Castes. Saderla also accused them of making casteist remarks against him after his appointment in January.

The accused will not be arrested immediately as the charges against them attract less than seven years in prison, Kalyanpur circle officer Rajesh Pandey told the Hindustan Times. “Action will be initiated after completing investigation into the matter,” he said.

Faculty members and students at the institute staged a sit-in protest against the FIR in front of the home of institute director Professor Abhay Karindkar for about two hours on Monday, according to the newspaper. Teachers have threatened to boycott examinations and tender collective resignations, while students have threatened protests if the FIR is not expunged.