The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed lower court proceedings against Assistant Professor Nirmala Devi in the audio tape scandal case. Passing an interim order in the case, the court also ordered notice to the State.
A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar observed, “A woman is inside the prison for more than a year. What is the necessity for this? The investigation is over and a charge-sheet has been filed in the case. She is entitled to default bail. Even those accused of murder are out on bail. This is shameful. There should be reasonableness. Now, this raises serious questions.”
During the course of the hearing, senior counsel Veera Kathiravan said the call records of the accused were examined only after March 15, 2018, which was when the leaked audio tape first surfaced, and records prior to March 15 or the contacts were not examined at all.
Taking the submissions into account, the court said an accused could not be kept in custody indefinitely It took cognisance of the fact that the other two accused in the case — V. Murugan and S. Karuppasamy — were out on bail. The court ordered a stay in the case and adjourned it for further hearing.
The court was hearing a PIL petition filed by P. Suganthi, general secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). She had sought a direction to transfer the investigation from the CB-CID to the CBI.
The petitioner said the case involved a crime that was not ordinary in nature.
A shocking reality was that human trafficking continued to generate business throughout the world despite numerous laws and conditions. The merchandise for this lucrative trade were women and children. Finding and punishing the tail of the network will not uproot this social evil. Unless the heads were caught, prosecuted and punished, the evils cannot be stopped, she said.
The case had sent shock waves across the State. It was alleged that Ms. Devi tried to lure girl students of the Devanga Arts College into offering sexual favours in return for academic gain.