After spending over nine months in the Madurai Central Prison over allegations of luring female college students for sex work, Assistant Professor V Murugan and former Research Scholar Karuppusamay have been granted bail by the Supreme Court. Their counsel headed by advocate Sanjay Hegde told the apex court that they were languishing in prison despite the trial being nowhere near commencing.
The two accused were arrested by the CB-CID after an Assistant Professor Nirmala Devi from Devanga Arts College in Virudhunagar alleged that they were involved in the luring of students along with her. On April 16, 2018, Nirmala Devi was arrested by the police after students she approached released an audio tape of her purportedly asking them to do sexual favours for higher officials of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU). In the 19-minute long audio clip, Nirmala Devi can allegedly be heard telling four students of the college about ‘opportunities’ that await them if they agree to do an ‘assignment’ she was offering. She promised them marks, academic prospects and money if they took up her offer.
She claimed that the officials providing these opportunities are high ranking men in the Madurai Kamaraj University and that they required female college students for it.
"They have been in prison for nine-and-a-half months now and the trial is not even likely to commence," explains Murugan's lawyer Lajapathi Roy. "The case is pending before the division bench and there is already a PIL for a CBI investigation. This matter is set to come up on February 18. So, in the near future there is no possibility of a trial," he adds.
So far, Karuppusamy's bail application has been dismissed twice, while Murugan's application was dismissed once by the High Court. This led the accused to approach the Supreme Court. Nirmala Devi is yet to receive any relief, despite multiple attempts to secure bail.
The two accused who have received bail are likely to come out in four to five days.
Nirmala Devi still in jail
Nirmala Devi who was produced before the Srivilliputhur Mahila Court in January has already accused the CB-CID sleuths of coercing her to obtain her confession statement.
In the confession recorded under section 161 of the CrPC on April 25, a week after her arrest, the main accused in the sex-for-cash case claims that the phone call that she made to her students was at the behest of Murugan and Karuppusamy, and that she had guessed that the two men had asked her to ‘arrange’ for college students at the behest of the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the Madurai Kamaraj University. She further claims that she did not know the Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, and she only named him and sent his photos and videos to her students in order to make herself sound more influential and credible to the students.
She has further alleged in court that there is political interference in her not getting bail. Her advocates have further alleged that she is being mistreated in prison and that health is deteriorating.
She also alleged a political conspiracy in not being granted bail. Nirmala Devi and her aides V Murugan and Karuppasamy appeared before the Magistrate Liaqath Ali on Wednesday. The case was adjourned to February 14.