Kasaragod college row: Kerala High Court slams govt for protecting SFI activists

The court pointed out that there was no inquiry by the Collegiate Education Directorate about the alleged false propaganda circulated on social media against the petitioner Dr M Rema.
Kerala High Court.
Kerala High Court.(File photo)

KOCHI: Coming down heavily on the state government for protecting the activists of SFI, the students wing of the CPM, who detained Dr M Rema, former principal of Government Arts and Science College, Kasaragod, and even prevented her from going to the washroom, the Kerala High Court has observed that the state government and the Collegiate Education Directorate targeted the teacher and portrayed her as a ‘villain’.

“No action was initiated against the members of the SFI unit and no inquiry was conducted against them. Unfortunately, the Directorate of Collegiate Education did not conduct any inquiry into the criminal complaint filed by the teacher dated February 24, 2023, about the misdeeds and wrongful restraint by the members of SFI,” said the court.

The court pointed out that there was no inquiry by the Collegiate Education Directorate about the alleged false propaganda circulated on social media against the petitioner. Her interview to a news channel in which she highlighted the highhanded activities of SFI workers was only to defend her actions. The Directorate of Collegiate Education surrendered its powers to conduct an unbiased and independent inquiry and deal with the matter impartially. The students who gheraoed and restrained the petitioner appear to be the real culprits. The investigation conducted in the matter was one-sided.

The committee led by Dr Sunil John which was set up based on a complaint filed by the secretary of the SFI unit of the college against the principal, had not conducted any inquiry as to the indiscipline and wrongful restraint on the principal by the members of the SFI. Now it seems that those who wanted to bring discipline in the college have been disciplined, stated the judgment.

Observing that Rema has every right to defend her actions, and the interview she gave was merely a narration of indiscipline and immoral activities on the campus, the court said “One cannot be punished or penalised for exercising right of speech and expression.”

A Division Bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Shoba Annamma Eapen issued the order while allowing a petition filed by Dr Rema M, former principal in-charge of Kasaragod Government College, seeking to quash the disciplinary proceedings against her for the interview she gave to a news channel criticising the activities of the SFI in the college. She had also spoken against illegal activities involving former students who frequently used to come to the campus. Furthermore, she has spoken about girl students who manhandled and misbehaved with her. Following the interview, the Collegiate Education Director transferred her to Government Arts and Science College, Koduvally, in Kozhikode district.

The Bench said that if she had raised unsubstantiated allegations against members of the SFI unit, the real aggrieved parties were the members of the SFI unit and not the government. The government cannot assume that these are unsubstantiated allegations without conducting an inquiry by an independent authority or determining the legality of the issues at a litigatory forum.

While striking down the memo of charges against Rema, the court said that the disciplinary actions appeared to be a form of oppression against a teacher who genuinely sought to protect the institution and its students.

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