Dr. Battull Hammid the principal of VIVA College of Law who resigned recently against being harassed for putting on scarf said “I had two options either be silent or to resign and speak up against the infringement of my Civil and Fundamental rights. So I have decided to resign and to speak up for my dignity, religious identity and culture”
She has issued a press statement giving the details of the ordeal she was going through after the Hijab row started.
Text of the statement
This statement is being issued in very compelling situations as the news of my resignation spread, a number of videos from the side of the Management of VIVA College of Law are regularly being broadcast, twisting the facts regarding my resignation and a vilification campaign was made painting me as publicity-seeker without addressing my actual grievances. I WAS LEFT WITH ONLY TWO OPTIONS, EITHER TO SURRENDER TO UNCONSTITUONAL DICTATES OF THE MANAGEMENT BY SURRENDRING MY DIGNITY OR RISING TO PROTEST UNDER PREVALENT SITUATIONS TO ASSERT MY SELF RESPECT, IDENTITY AND CULTURE GUARANTEED BY THE LAW OF THE LAND SO I OPTED TO THE SECOND, BEARING THE LOSS OF MY JOB AND TO SPEAK UP AGAINST THE INJUSTICE.
The actual facts are as follows:
That I was appointed on clear vacancy as I/C Principal of VIVA College of Law Virar following the Legal procedure. At the time of the interview I came wearing Hijab and they were well acquainted that I strictly followed the traditions of Dawoodi Bohra Muslim women headed by His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. In view of My Ph.D on Constitutional Law and teaching experience, the interview committee duly selected and appointed me on the substantial post of the Principal of VIVA College of Law on 19 July, 2019 on the probation. After the completion of the probation period of one year, my services were impliedly confirmed as neither the discharge happened nor any notice extending the probation period was issued, legally confirming the services.
That I have admittedly contributed and admirably served for about two and half year meanwhile on the basis of holding the post of the principal as qualified I/C Principal, all the legal formalities could be completed and the law college was granted the approvals from the authorities concerned to run the courses of LL.B 3 year, One more Division of LL.B 3 year and 5 years B.A.LL.B as well as the LIC (Local inspection Committee) of Mumbai University For the approval of LL.M completed. The inspection showing me as the qualified Principal of the college was also done. It seems that either after the procurement of all the approvals to run the law college or to complete the formalities to get the approval presenting me as a qualified Principal. The utility was over and the management under a hidden a scheme, wanted to get rid of me. As it appears, I became an eyesore to the management committee due to distinct identity wearing Hijab and my religion which was alleged to be not “conducive” to the atmosphere of the college after Karnataka verdict on Hijab.
That it is worthy to mention here that the conduct and behavior of the management committee has later on, impacted by an event, had taken place on October 14, 2021 when a delegation of highly respectable elders from the Dawoodi Bohra Community asked to make me visit in the office as I am the only Bohra Muslim Women, who has acquired a Ph.D degree on constitutional law and has got the job as the Principal of the Law College. So a section among Dawoodi Bohra Muslims taking it as a matter of pride, wanted to felicitate me into my office and wanted to know the norms of the college for admission in the law college. I allowed them as I felt the visit would be to the benefits to the institution.
The pleasantries were exchanged there. I had also invited other senior staff to the event into my office. The event passed over without any reaction but after the Karnataka hijab issue came into national galore, I was also targeted questioning this event as the religious activity.
That the visit of the delegation was also connected to make an allegation that the Principal was doing religious activity into the college in the meeting of the Board members dated 14 December 2021. a grinding mill, thereafter started rumors that I was involved in religious activity in the college without any evidence and after this event the hornet nest was disturbed and the gossips were circulated that the Principal was carrying religious activity and she had disturbed atmosphere of college by putting Hijab all the time one staff member even talked to me that you should came into Saree not into hijab. The pressure was day by day increased and the insult into the Board meeting was an accumulative effect. There was felt a sudden change apparent in dealing with me as the non-teaching staff started insulting me and management also made objections on the consumption of the quantity of tea the drinking water and carrying of my bag from the car to my office by the peon. In these hard situation
I was called before the full board meeting on December 14, 2021. My mobile phone was ordered to get switched off and the charge of promoting religious activity into the college was made. I was harshly interrogated for two hours alleging that my conduct is not “conducive” to the college atmosphere pointing out my identity and culture. The members of the Board harassed, humiliated and insulted me for two hours in a closed door. When I tried to reply, I was shouted down to keep full and absolute silence and not to explain.
I used to help financially the staff and students if there happened any personal constraints but it was taken as an offence and alleged as the “vested interest” by the management The Board members also alleged that I have been carrying vested interests by lending money to the staff and student for fees, though it was without any pecuniary benefit or financially helping in depositing the fees. It was also ordered that I was not authorized to take any help from peon to carry my luggage totally ignoring my condition of severe pain of sciatica.
That management blamed me with fake and unfounded allegation. The allegations were general and ambiguous without having any support of evidence as no complaint from the staff or the student has ever been made against me in last three years. That I was so depressed and helpless after the Board meeting. I could not bear the insults and the suicidal tendency took over me. The timely intervention by the well-wishers could get me out of the dilemma.
It appears that allegations resulting into the Board meeting dated on 14th December was intended to insult the Principal to push her to the corner to prepare a ground to get rid off her. Opposite the fabricated allegation I have always been very active to maintain amicable relation as no complaint ever has been made from any corner.
That after it the secretary miss Aparna Thakur visited me on 18 January and expressed words of solace and admiration for my work informing me that LIC is expected to schedule to visit for the inspection of LL. M course and the admission of first year LL.B was nearly about to start so I should start preparing for both the matters and said that management trusted you as you had been doing well.
The extracurricular activities to enhance the caliber of the student as well as to the prestige of the institute the regular event were always appreciated by the management, including the national seminar with chief guest as ex former Judge of Supreme Court Honorable MR. Justice Joseph Kurian was organized by me. The other important events included to my credit, are inviting ex Judge of Mumbai High court Mr. B.G. Kolse patil, Secretary General of All India Lawyers Council Adv. Sharfuddin Ahmad, National Secretary Of AILC, Adv. Santosh Jadhav, Ali Inamdar, etc, apart from moot court competition and cultural programme to boost up the moral of the student community at large. The seminar was held on Constitutional Law on 24 feb 2022 at VIVA Law College hosted by me where member of the managing committee as well as senior staff had participated. Justice B.G. Kolse Patil, Adv. Sharfuddin Ahmad, Adv. Santosh Jadhav Ali Inamdar and other were felicitated there. Thereafter Lunch was organized and the trustee/ President, Mr. Hitendra Thakur Joined later on during talk he opened his mind again and he directly and specifically attacked on me in presence of the guest, accusing that I am carrying religious activities in the campus. When I tried to give my reply, I was not allowed it was very insulting and again pushed me to think over the possibilities of working in disharmonious, suffocating and hostile atmosphere as I am an academician and cannot work in such undesirable situations.
That the management held on me till the LIC( local Inspection committee) was to visit premises to grant the approval for LL.M Course in absence of a qualified Principal approval may not be granted so management to let me continue to function. It was the next day when LIC completed its work, one of the senior members of the management committee came to my office during the lunch time between 1 to 1:30 to warn me not to exercise in any religious activity into my office and very uncomfortably and disrespectfully dealt with me ignoring my services and causing me hurt that caused me so deeply that my blood pressure instantly went low and I fell unconscious for some moments. Some of the persons around me taunted I was doing drama (NATAK). It was high time to take the decision as my identity, culture and the legal and constitutional rights were at stake. It was decided by me to seek exit by tendering resignation because it has been told to me that the intention of the management was to cut me to the size as I am not tamed to follow the dictates on my religious beliefs and tradition like Hijab which is integral part of my personality, identity and culture.
That I have been denied the right of hearing of my grievances mentioned in the resignation letter that “FOR A FEW DAYS I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AS THE ATMOSPHERE AROUND ME IS MADE UNHARMONIOUS SO IT IS HARDLY POSSIBLE TO CONTINUE TO DISCHARGE MY DUTIES AS THE PRINCIPAL OF VIVA COLLEGE OF LAW” that the claim of the management that principal had not made her complaint is proved totally wrong and incorrect because after getting the resignation letter in conciliatory tone the question still remains to be addressed:
A. Whether the management had probed the unharmonious atmosphere around the principal?
B. Whether the management had called the principal to explain her grievances before accepting resignation?
C. What were the reasons to immediately acknowledge to give effect to the resignation?
D. Whether without issuing me a one month prior notice, an appointment of unqualified and retired person as I/C Principal may secretly be made who is not able to hold the approvals granted during the tenure of qualified I/C Principal?
The post-resignation behavior of the management proved that they were guilty for impropriety and now producing lame excuses to save and to protect them from the acts of injustice and illegalities perpetrated upon me.
That I would like to humbly state to the benefits of the society at large that the institute run without professional ethics. The procedure and methods are not being followed.
That I am pained at the false narrative, widely circulated and broadcast on the media and social media causing character assassination based upon the concocted and fabricated facts. Which is unfounded and not proved by any evidence.
I am an academician throughout and continue my career without politicizing are enlarging the issue that made me sacrifice the utmost by tendering the resignation which had taken place in a very compelling situations on the provocations to indignify my religion and identity as well as fundamental and constitutional rights. It was so challenging that I had to take the decision of resignation. I had not approached the media, even had always maintained the dignity as an academician, have been made prey to the glaring cruelty and injustice compelling and provoking me to sacrifice my job.
I am thankful to the media for presenting the case in right perspective. The purpose of this statement is to bring the facts to the record as a section of the media, influenced by the mighty management has been publishing on the issue through false statements so that further wrong narratives may not be promoted.
My Last Words regarding the Karnataka High Court Hijab verdict this verdict has caused pains to large number of a persons like me who suffer but untiringly stand for the constitutional rights and liberty.
Dr. Battull Hammid