After exactly three weeks of unrelenting protests by students, Law Academy Principal Dr. Lekshmi Nair on Tuesday relinquished her post, with the Vice Principal stepping in to discharge duties of the Principal for now.
According to a press release from the Academy, Lekshmi would not hold even a faculty position in the Academy for the next five years.
Apart from this, taking cognizance of the sub-committee report that was submitted to the Kerala University Syndicate, a monthly attendance report would be published, the Management said.
A Grievance Cell too would be constituted to address problems faced by the students, in addition to the formation of a College Council comprising two student representatives and a lady member nominated by the College Union.
The Management also assured that no student who had taken part in the protests would face any punitive action for the same.
A Hostel Committee consisting of a senior lady teacher, warden and representatives from among the inmates would be formed to look into problems faced by the residents of the Girls hostel at the Academy.
SFI had earlier on Tuesday ended its 17-day stir, citing that the college Management had assured it in writing that Lekshmi was on her way out. Other student bodies namely KSU and ABVP had however continued their protests in this regard.
Conciliatory talks that were held on Monday had failed to yield any result, following which students had further intensified their protests.
When the protests had showed no sign of diminishing, the CPI (M) (the party with the majority in the present LDF government in Kerala) was left with no choice but to summon Narayanan, his advocate son Nagarajan Narayanan and his brother and three-time former party legislator Koliyakode Krishnan Nair to the state party headquarters to discuss the issue.
This was after former Chief Minister and party veteran VS Achuthanandan had strongly condemned the way in which the academy is being run and demanded immediate intervention of the Pinarayi government in the matter.
VS had also visited the SFI pandhal at the protest venue and had demanded that the excess land in possession of the Academy be handed over to the state government.
Sources say this was also to avoid intervention by a reluctant state government that sought to save face by avoiding what could probably end up as a source of major embarrassment to the Left in the state.
Kerala University had debarred Lekshmi from examination duties for the next five years, following the submission of a sub-committee report that found her guilty on several counts. Bur mere debarring refused to cut much ice with the protesting students, who termed the action ineffective.
The sub-committee was convinced that the arrogant approach adopted by the Principal towards the students and their parents “have hurt their hearts deeply”.
Students who deposed before the Committee said that Lekshmi used to discriminate between students “by specifying in a vulgar tone their caste, creed, colour, religion and appearance.”
It was also found that there are clear-cut violations of the regulations in place with regard to award of internal marks in both the five-year and the three-year degree LLB Courses/Examination.
The Committee was unanimous in its conclusion that the Law Academy with fifty years of glorious legacy has been brought to a pathetic state “solely because of the maladministration from the part of the present principal Dr. Lekshmi Nair”.
Lekshmi had earlier reiterated to the media that neither the state government nor the University had the right to remove her from the post. She warned of legal action, in case they harboured any such intention.
She also went on to claim that majority of the students in her college supported her, and that only very few students are actually involved in the protest. Lekshmi believed that the ones protesting, were unhappy over certain disciplinary measures that she had implemented on campus. “They want these to go,” she alleged.
A police case was registered against Lekshmi based on a complaint by a student about casteist remarks directed against him by the Principal.
The state Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Special Cell too was directed by the State Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes to look into allegations against the college Management, of forcing Dalit students to do menial jobs.
The State Human Rights Commission had even registered a suo moto case against the Principal for reportedly disparaging Dalit students by their caste names.
Political leaders cutting across party affiliations had dropped in at the protest venue to express their solidarity with the cause.
This included state Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, K S Sabarinathan MLA, KP Sasikala, K Surendran, Kummanam Rajasekharan among others.
The health of former BJP state president V Muraleedharan had deteriorated after he sat on a hunger strike in front of the Academy demanding state government intervention in the matter.
A group of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members had barged into Lekshmi Nair's apartment in the course of the protest and had even threatened to commit suicide by jumping from the top of the building.
The private college that was set up in Thiruvananthapuram in 1968 has till date enjoyed absolute support from successive state governments. This enabled the Academy to build an 11-acre campus, as well as own a commercial complex (by a private builder) located on a prime plot of land in the heart of the city.
It has among its alumni several leading politicians, judges, lawyers, high-ranking police officers and bureaucrats.
NB: According to Narayanan, Lekshmi would be made Director of the Research Centre at Punnen Road.