The Madras High Court Monday ordered the arrest of Tamil Nadu higher education secretary Mangat Ram Sharma, taking a serious view of his failure to appear in the court in a contempt case despite advance notice.
"Contempt proceedings are serious proceedings and they cannot be taken lightly, especially, by a higher official like the higher education secretary," Justice N Kriubakaran said in his order.
He was passing further interim orders on a contempt petition filed by the Association of Self Financing Arts and Science and Management Colleges in Tamil Nadu against the Coimbatore-based Bharathiyar University over setting up of distance education study centres through franchises institutes in areas outside its jurisdiction.
When the case came up for hearing, all the officials barring Sharma were present.
Refusing to accept the explanation, the judge said: "It is not as if he was asked to appear before this court at short notice."
"On December 5 itself, he was served notice... he should have made arrangements to see to it that he appears before this court," the judge said.
Noting that contempt proceedings were serious in nature, the judge further said, "The court has got every reason to believe that he had deliberately avoided appearance."
Dispensing with further personal appearance of the officials who were present in the court, the judge posted the matter for January 9.
The petitioner sought contempt action, contending that contrary to an undertaking given before the court on December 8, 2017, the Bharathiyar University syndicate had passed a resolution to admit students from outside under the distance education programme for 2018-19.
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