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Principal booked under SC/ST Act

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The State police have registered a case against Kerala Law Academy Law College principal P. Lekshmi Nair on the suspicion of having intentionally insulted a Dalit student of the college in public view.

She has been booked under The Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe and The Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989.

The management said the case had no factual or legal basis. However, agitating students interpreted the development as one which made Ms. Nair’s continuation as Principal further untenable. Severe criticism from the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had prompted the State police to act on Dalit student V.G. Vivek’s complaint on Monday though a year had elapsed since he had filed it.

Delay draws criticism

The delay in registering the case had opened the State police to harsh public criticism that it was biased against Dalit petitioners.

It had also raised questions about a possible conflict of interest between local law enforcers and the private college in which some of them were enrolled as management quota students.

Public attention had focussed on police negligence of Mr. Vivek’s complaint after the student agitation seeking Ms. Nair’s removal as Principal gathered momentum.

Mr. Vivek’s grievance was that Ms. Nair openly berated his caste status in January last. He felt the cause for his “public humiliation” was that Ms. Nair thought him responsible for some adverse reports that appeared in the media against the college.

Three eyewitnesses

The news reports, since repudiated by Ms. Nair, had strongly hinted at the management’s suspected prejudice against Dalit students as “evidenced by the denial of SC/ST grants.” Mr. Vivek has cited three students as eyewitnesses in the case.

Assistant Commissioner, Cantonment, K.E. Baiju, the Investigating Officer (IO), said a preliminary inquiry into the complaint had revealed a cognisable offence. Those officers responsible for the delay in acting on the case would be prosecuted under the provisions of the Act. The police said they have found no merit in another student, K. Selvam’s complaint that Ms. Nair had press-ganged Dalit students to serve at her restaurant.

Article source: News Source

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