Aruppukottai/Chennai: Nirmala Devi, a woman lecturer of a private college in the state, was on Monday arrested in connection with her alleged advice to students “to adjust with some officials” in return for higher marks and money, in what is seen as a suggestion for sexual favours.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University to which the college is affiliated, set up a ‘high powered inquiry’ committee to look into ‘certain immoral’ happenings surrounding the lecturer. The assistant professor of Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai in Virudhunagar district had allegedly made the overtures a month ago. But, the issue came to light only on Sunday after an audio of purported conversation between her and some students went viral on the social media. In the audio, she is heard suggesting that the girls adjust with some (education) officials, “for getting 85 per cent mark and money.” Hours after a complaint was lodged by the college and a local women’s association, police on Monday evening arrested the lecturer at her residence in Aruppukottai.
She 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) and under the Information Technology Act, police said.
High drama preceded the arrest as the assistant professor allegedly locked herself in her house and a 50-strong police team broke open the backdoor and detained her.
The Governor in a statement in Chennai said the probe will be conducted by retired IAS officer R. Santhanam and the decision was taken based on a report from 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 Madurai Kamaraj University have also been made,” he said. “It is important to enquire into such matters immediately and without prejudice so that the guilty do not escape without punishment,” the Governor said. The decision was taken in his capacity as Chancellor of the university, Purohit added.
Earlier, as the issue led to an outrage with the lecturer’s remarks being perceived as suggestion of sexual favour, the state government and opposition parties lashed out at her.
The lecturer has already been suspended by the college management last month pending investigation after some students complained about her. 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.
College secretary Ramasamy said a first round of inquiry had been completed by three professors of the college and they had submitted their report, based on which she had been suspended. She had been asked to given an explanation regarding her advice to the students, he added.