Kolkata: The government has not awarded Padma Shri to Visva Bharati University Vice-Chancellor Sushanta Datta Gupta, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has said in an RTI reply.
“Prof Sushanta Datta Gupta has not been awarded with Padma Shri. No person is authorised to use Padma awardee before the conferment of the award upon him/her,” the ministry said.
The investiture ceremony for Padma awardees was held on March 31 and April 26.
“No communication was sent to Prof Datta Gupta to receive the Padma award by any official of the MHA,” the ministry said while responding to an RTI query by Shantinektan-based poet and author Nilanjan Banerjee.
Prof Datta Gupta earlier had been considered by the Central government for the civilian honour but the decision had invited sharp criticism from several quarters as a case of alleged sexual harassment was pending against him.
In another RTI appeal, the Ministry of Human Resource Development said they are conducting a fact-finding inquiry against the VC through their vigilance section. Harpreet Singh, Director of Higher Education Department, has been asked to conduct a fact-finding inquiry and the report is awaited, it said.
National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma had in February written to Prime Minister opposing the selection of Visva Bharati VC as a Padma Shri awardee.
She had said the award “completely overlooked” the sexual harassment complaint of a woman colleague against him during his tenure at the Satyendra Nath Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences in Kolkata during 2004.
Similarly, the West Bengal Women's Commission had also written to the Prime Minister and the President demanding withdrawal of Padma Shri to Datta Gupta and his removal him from the post of VC of the central university located in Shantinektan in West Bengal.
Prof Datta Gupta has however, denied the allegations saying it was a campaign to malign him.