Ex-IAS officer TR Santhanam to probe into allegations by students against Nirmala, MKU top officials.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit, who is also the Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU), on Monday ordered a high-level enquiry into the incident involving a woman professor of Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai, who allegedly tried to lure her students to ‘yield’ to top officials of the university.
There have been widespread reports in the press and social media about certain immoral happenings in a college in Aruppukottai, in which references to MKU have also been made.
It is important to enquire into such matters immediately and without prejudice so that the guilty do not escape without punishment,” the Governor said in his communique.
The communique also stated the high-level enquiry was instituted on the basis of the report furnished by the university. The enquiry will be conducted by retired IAS officer TR Santhanam.
The Raj Bhavan release also stated that Santhanam worked as Collector of composite Ramanathapuram district and held several senior positions before retiring in the grade of Chief Secretary to Government.
Surrenders to police after husband’s advice, whisked away
Police on Monday arrested Nirmala Devi, the 47-year-old assistant professor of a MKU-affiliated private college in Aruppukkottai, for allegedly luring four students of the same college ‘to compromise with higher officials’ of the university.
The audio clip of Nirmala speaking to the students over phone went viral on social media recently and drew widespread condemnations.
The incident happened in mid-March immediately after the visit of Governor Barwarilal Purohit to the convocation function of the university.
In an instant action, the college management suspended the assistant professor on March 21. However, when the news was widely reported, the management lodged a police complaint against the assistant professor. Acting on the complaint, the Rajapalayam town police registered a case against Devi under three sections, 370, 511 of IPC and 67(A) of IT Act.
After filing the FIR, police went to the house of Nirmala in Athipatti on Monday, but she had locked her house from inside. The tahsildar, Sivakarthikeyayini, too visited the house, but Nirmala refused to open the house. The police chose to wait outside the house. In the evening, when Nirmala’s husband Saravana Pandi came to the house, spoke to her over phone and convinced her to surrender.
In the meantime, police asked media persons to stay away from the spot on the pretext of breaking into the house. When reporters dispersed from the spot, Nirmala came out of the house. As earlier planned, police whisked the assistant professor away from the spot preventing the media from confronting her. According to sources, she was then taken to the all-women police station in Aruppukkottai.
Earlier in the day, college students, parents and activists attached to various NGOs staged a protest in front of the college demanding the arrest of Devi. Following the protest, the college was temporarily shut down.
Meanwhile, police faced an embarrassing situation when they went for inquiry to the college on Monday morning. They had asked for the identity of the four girls who spoke to by Devi. However, other students opposed the attempt of the police to get the identity of their classmates. Following that, police left the spot.
University forms 5-member probe panel
Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) on Monday formed a five- member internal committee to probe into the audio clip, in which private college assistant professor Nirmala Devi, had allegedly attempted to lure four students ‘to compromise with top university officials.
The committee will be headed by M Lellis Thivagar, syndicate member and chairperson of the School of Mathematics. Other members on the committee are S Andiappan, syndicate member and chairperson of School of Religions, Philosophy and Humanist Thought, S Rajashabala, syndicate member and associate professor in School of Physics, P Varalakshmi, assistant professor in School of Biotechnology, and P Jeyabharathy, assistant professor in School of Youth Empowerment. However, demands for an independent inquiry has been made by social activists.
They claimed that the ‘top officials’ who are mentioned in the audio conversation would go free if the committee contained members from the same university. The activists have called for a free and fair inquiry.
After his retirement, Santhanam also functioned as Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Government of India.