High Court’s interim order on plea against guv appointed probe panel

The Madras High Court today ordered that the report of an inquiry committee looking into the alleged attempt by a woman college teacher to lure students to extend sexual favours in return for higher mark be kept in a sealed cover once it was submitted.
A division bench comprising Justices V Parthiban and P D Audikesavalu gave the interim direction during the hearing of a petition by the Revolutionary Students Youth Front against the appointment of the committee headed by former IAS officer A S Santhanam by Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

Petitioner, represented by its Tamil Nadu co-ordinator D D Ganesan, sought an interim injunction restraining Santhanam from submitting any report before the completion of the CB-CID probe into the issue.

The bench said an apprehension had been expressed that the report of the committee was likely to be submitted before the petition could be heard and in that event the criminal investigation may likely to be diluted.

The court said if any report was submitted by the committee before the next hearing of the petition, it shall be kept in a sealed cover till further orders.

Purohit had on April 16 appointed the committee to look into ‘certain immoral’ happenings surrounding an assistant professor of Aruppukottai-based Devanga Arts College, affiliated to the Madurai Kamaraj University.

The decision was taken in his capacity as Chancellor of the university, he had said.

The assistant professor was arrested last month in connection with her alleged advise to students “to adjust with some officials” in return for higher marks and money.

The scandal came to light when an audio of purported conversation between her and some students went viral in the social media last month, triggering a public outrage.

The petition submitted that it was obvious that the assistant professor had the back up of some persons holding very high positions.

It said the assistant professor had mentioned certain programmes in which the governor had participated in order to buttress the rare privileges that she was provided with during such events.

She had mentioned about this in order to authenticate her claim that she had in fact had high level connection, it claimed.

The petitioner further contended that the governor had appointed the inquiry committee without any official proceedings and in a manner not known to law.

He claimed that the governor had no power or jurisdiction to set up such committee and the suo-motu action created an impression that something was wrong.

The petitioner sought a special investigation team headed by a retired high court judge to probe the case under the watch of the court.

A similar petition challenging the appointment of the committee filed in the Madurai bench of the high court was dismissed yesterday.

Justices S Govindaraj and G R Swaminathan of the bench had held that the governor has the powers as the chancellor (of state-run universities) to order such an inquiry.

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