HC upholds school principal's dismissal in TN

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Chennai, Jun 17: Madras High Court has ruled that there was nothing wrong in the dismissal of a Navodaya School principal, who had molested a girl student of class tenth.

A Division Bench comprising Justices P K Mishra and K Chandru dismissed the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order for having directed the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti to reinstate principal T Murugesan, with all consequential service benefits.

The judges said, ''The CAT ought to have thrown out the case of Murugesan... No legal precedents were either referred to or discussed by the CAT. The order of the CAT shows its anxiety to somehow grant relief to the principal without there being any iota of justification.'' Murugesan was working as principal of a Navodaya Vidyalaya in October 2002, when he 'tried to exploit the innocence and modesty of a minor girl studying in Class X, taking advantage of the absence of her parents in the house.' Father of the girl was a driver in the school and therefore her family was residing in the school premises. According to the girl, the principal had reportedly molested her on three earlier occasions and she did not reveal it to anyone due to shyness.

On October 27, 2002, the girl shouted for help when she realised that Murugesan might outrage her modesty. After that incident, Murugesan collected statements from several employees of the school, students and their parents and conducted prayer meetings in his support.

However, a summary trial was conducted and he was found prima facie guilty of moral turpitude, involved in sexual offence or exhibition of immoral sexual behaviour towards a student following which he was dismissed from service.

On his appeal against dismissal, the CAT, in June 2005 set aside the summary trial and directed the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti to reinstate Murugesan with all service benefits.

On an appeal preferred by the school, Madras High Court stayed the CAT order immediately and also declined to vacate the stay despite a petition filed by Murugesan later.

In the final judgment, the judges, decrying the ''orchestrated campaign'' of the principal to muster support, said there was a categorical finding against Murugesan and that the CAT ought not have entertained his plea and set aside the CAT order.

UNI

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