Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit today said strict action would be taken in the episode involving a woman college lecturer, who allegedly lured girl students to provide sexual favours to varsity higher officials and asserted that the guilty would be punished.
"The matter is very serious..it should not have happened and the guilty has to be punished," he said.
In this connection a one man committee, led by retired bureaucrat R Santhanam had been appointed, he told reporters here at a press conference, his first since assuming office last October.
In an obvious reference to opposition parties like DMK questioning his action to appoint the one man panel, Purohit quoted legal provisions and said that as chancellor of the varsity, he was empowered to constitute the committee.
The Governor said that "without consulting him," the Madurai Kamaraj varsity had initially constituted an internal committee and it was later revoked in view of the one man panel being named by him.
The Raj Bhavan, in a separate press release citing legal provisions and Supreme Court orders in various cases, said "the state government cannot advise the chancellor to act in a particular manner."
Varsity Acts of the state legislature were "distinct from the provisions of Article 164 of the Constitution, which prescribes that the Council of Ministers will aid and advise the Governor," it said.
Citing the alleged immoral behaviour of an assistant professor of the Aruppukottai college, the Raj Bhavan said it warranted immediate action.
"The Chancellor, acting on the report of the university, therefore ordered a high powered enquiry by retired IAS officer R Santhanam," it said.
Asserting that swift action was taken in an unbiased manner to bring out the truth, the Raj Bhavan said the action was entirely in accordance with the Constitutional and legal position.
"There is and there will be no attempt to shield anybody and it shall be ensured that the guilty do not go without punishment," the release said.
To a question on the opposition demand for a CBI probe, Purohit said issues like sending the matter to the Central probe agency would be looked into, based on the findings of the one man panel.
"After receiving the report, we will see what needs to be done," he said.
Purohit, who took a volley of questions in this regard, said if a CBI probe was needed, he would be the first person to order (endorse) it.
He said the Committee's findings would be made public through the media and steps were being taken to institutionalise more safeguards.
"We are establishing a mechanism and we are working on that," the Governor said.
Asked about the woman lecturer claiming in her audio that she knew the Governor and had access to him like in a recent convocation, Purohit said he participated in many such events.
"How am I supposed to know if somebody is moving here and there? I do not know the lady at all", he said.
Purohit said he had not even seen her and added that he was surrounded by his entire team all the time. "Even a bird" could not approach him without permission, he said.
Earlier in the day the probe into the case was transferred to Tamil Nadu Crime Branch Police.
Assistant Professor Nirmala Devi was arrested yesterday on a complaint by the college and a women's forum after an audio clip of her purported conversation with students went viral on social media on Sunday.
Devi of Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai in Virudhunagar District, about 500 km from Chennai, was alleged to have made the overtures to a group of girls a month ago and had already been suspended.
In the audio, Devi is heard saying that the girls adjust with some officials, "for getting 85 per cent mark and money," in what is seen as a suggestion for sexual favours.
She, however, has denied a sexual angle to her advice and claimed she had made it "in the right spirit" and not with any hidden motive or agenda.
The main opposition party DMK questioned Purohit's action in ordering the probe by the one man panel.
Party working President M K Stalin said only the Vice Chancellor of a university acts as the head and could address issues of staff and students of colleges affiliated to it and not the Governor, who is also its Chancellor.
He said the legal provisions cited by Purohit were related to the powers of the vice-chancellor.
"The Governor's action raises a question if President's rule is in force in Tamil Nadu", he said.
Meanwhile, a PIL was filed in Madras High Court today, seeking to transfer the probe to the CBI.
Petitioner G S Mani,a lawyer, submitted that if the probe has to take place properly, it should be transferred to the central agency as there was every chance of the evidence being tampered with
"The state police is not effective to do a free and fair investigation against the unknown accused, who are highly influential and hence the probe should be transferred to CBI," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)