Don't know the accused woman, says Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit on sex for degrees case

Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit said that he has not even seen face of the suspended assistant professor Nirmala Devi, who has been arrested on charges of luring four of her girl students to extend sexual favours to senior university officials.

"I do not know the lady... I am above politics. Strict action will be taken if someone is found guilty. We will get to know only after an inquiry," Governor Purohit was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Purohit said this at a press conference after some political parties questioned his action in ordering a probe into the matter.

 Dont know the accused woman, says Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit on sex for degrees case

File image of Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit. News18

Earlier, DMK working president MK Stalin and PMK leader S Ramadoss had said that the governor of the state, who is also the chancellor of the university, did not have the power to govern or probe malpractices in the colleges affiliated to the university.

On Monday, Governor Purohit had ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter by a retired IAS officer, R Santhanam.

However, with political parties demanding a CBI probe into the alleged attempt at the trafficking of college students for sexual activities by a professor, the Tamil Nadu Police chief on Tuesday ordered the transfer of the case to the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID).

Considering the importance of the case, the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) ordered to transfer the case from Arupukkottai Police Station in Virudhunagar district to the CBCID, a government statement said.

On the other hand, the Madurai Kamaraj University said it had decided to scrap its proposal to set up a five-member committee to probe the alleged sexual trafficking complaint.

In a statement, Madurai Kamaraj University vice-chancellor PP Chellathurai said: "The university is keen that all details with regard to the incident be inquired into without any bias. Hence the proposal to form an internal committee in the university has been withdrawn."

"The high powered inquiry by R Santhanam, IAS (retd), ordered by the Chancellor will commence forthwith for which the university will be rendering all necessary assistance," he said.

Based on the report from the university, Purohit, in his capacity as the chancellor, had ordered for inquiry by a high powered committee, the statement said.

Nirmala Devi, who taught at the Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai, was at the centre of a storm after audio clips of her talks with some students suggested that they yield themselves to keep the "higher-ups" in the Madurai Kamaraj University happy so that the college keeps getting facilities.

Devi had allegedly made the overtures to a group of girls a month ago and had already been suspended, but she was arrested only on Tuesday after the clips went viral on social media.

A report from Arupukottai said Devi was being interrogated at the local all-women police station and police have seized three mobile phones used by her.

The revenue divisional officer also held an enquiry with the assistant professor, police said. The assistant professor has been booked under IPC sections 370 (Buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with life or other imprisonment), besides under the Information Technology Act.

In the audio, Devi is heard saying that the girls adjust with some officials, "for getting 85 percent mark and money," in what is seen as a suggestion for sexual favours.
She, however, has denied sexual angle to her advice and claimed she had made it "in the right spirit" and not with any hidden motive or agenda.

Stalin told reporters that only a vice-chancellor of a university could set up an inquiry committee and not the governor in the capacity of the chancellor.

"It is not known why the governor as the chancellor acted in this manner. There seems to be some confusion. Only a high court-monitored CBI probe will bring out the truth," he said.

PMK leader S Ramadoss also said committees appointed by Purohit and Chellathurai were not legally valid.

"Governor Purohit is only a Chancellor of the university. He does not have the power to govern or probe malpractices in the colleges," Ramadoss said, adding only the college management had the power to take action against a professor found to be misguiding the students to take a wrong path.

"A shadow of suspicion is on all the top officials of the university and hence Chellathurai can face an inquiry committee but can't set up one," the PMK leader said. Ramadoss said the accused professor's mobile phone call records should be checked to determine others involved.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Apr 17, 2018 21:51:03 IST