In a big development, the government of Tamil Nadu has told the Madras High Court that it has no objection in granting bail to Nirmala Devi. This move comes almost a week after the court ordered an interim stay in the case, the trial which was set to begin in the Srivilliputhur Mahila court in Virudhunagar district.
Nirmala Devi, a former Assistant Professor in an arts college in Aruppukkottai, was arrested in April for trying to lure her girl students to provide sexual favours to ‘higher officials’ in exchange for money, grades and career opportunities. In an audio clip released by one of the girls, Nirmala Devi was heard telling her students to do certain things for a senior official of the Madurai Kamaraj University to which the college is affiliated.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court was hearing a case filed by Suganthi, the General Secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), in which she sought the case to be transferred to the CBI due to various irregularities in the investigation conducted by the CB CID. In the previous hearing, the petitioner had alleged that the investigating officers had filed chargesheet after questioning just three people involved in the case -- Nirmala Devi, Assistant Professor V Murugan and former Research Scholar Karuppasamy. She had stated that CB CID has deliberately not questioned or revealed the names of people for whom Nirmala Devi was allegedly soliciting sexual favours from students.
In this case, the government of Tamil Nadu was asked to file a response on Monday. In its submission, the government has stated that it was based on the orders of a single-judge bench in Madras High Court that the Srivilliputhur Mahila court did not grant bail to Nirmala Devi. It also stated that the government does not have any objection in granting bail to her.
A single-judge bench of Justice GK Ilanthirayan had, in October, rejected Nirmala Devi’s bail petition stating that if the accused was let out bail, there could be a possibility of them destroying evidence.
When the court asked if there was any danger to Nirmala Devi’s life and if that is the reason for not granting a bail, the counsel for the government stated that there was no danger to her life. The judges also wondered whether it was possible for the court to grant bail on a suo motu basis.
Suganthi’s petition also had stated that a lot of officers within the University and also in the Department of higher education come under the ambit of ‘higher officials’ but no investigation was carried out with any of them.
Murugan and Karuppasamy, who are the co-accused in the case, were granted bail by the Supreme Court. However, Nirmala Devi’s bail application has been rejected multiple times by various courts.
The court asked the Superintendent of CB CID officials to file response for a few clarifications by March 11 and posted the case for the next hearing on that day.