In a gruesome case of sexual assault perpetrated by the professor of a Christian educational institution, on 16 August, Justice S Vaidyanathan of the Madras High Court refused to quash the show-cause notice to the accused.
The accused, assistant professor Samuel Tennyson of Madras Christian College has been accused of sexually abusing over 30 third year zoology students in the college, reports Times of India.
Justice Vaidyanathan had also observed that there was an impression among the parents that Christian institutions were highly unsafe for the girl child. The judge also noted that the Christian missionaries were always under limelight due to activities like forced conversion.
“Though they impart good education, their preaching of morality will be a million-dollar question,” said the judge.
Several groups, including the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC), the Tamil Nadu Latin Bishops’ Council (TNLBC), the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and the Indian Christian Association of Tamil Nadu expressed concern over his remarks.
On Tuesday, when the counsel for the Christian college made a mention before the court that the comments of the judge were uncalled for and had no connections with the case, Justice Vaidyanathan agreed to remove the references from the order.
Serious allegation of sexual abuse were made against Tennyson along with another professor R Raveen after both of them accompanied students to an excursion in February. They were accused of touching girl students inappropriately, passing lewd comments and indecent gestures by the students.
After the trip, an anonymous complaint was filed to the Head of the Department Moses Inbaraj who ignored it. After that, students lodged a formal complaint with the signatures of the students and sent it to college principal Alexander Jesudasan.
Jesudasan, in violation of the procedure laid down by the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, forwarded the complaint to Moses Inbaraj.
Inbaraj then called the students, had a talk, calling it an inquiry of sorts. The students referred to the exercise as a “joke”. Inbaraj then said that the accused will only be given a warning as there was no previous complaints against them, and also promised the students that their exam papers will not be corrected by the accused professors.
When the case came to light, the 1997-2000 zoology batch shared similar instances of harassment from the accused. They said that the accused were suspended for the misbehaviour, however, no record of suspension was found.
The lies of the college administration to cover up the rampant sex abuse by its professor forced students to launch a protest. Only after the protests, an Internal Complaints Committee was set up and a formal inquiry began.
While Raveen was fired by the college administration, no action was taken against Tennyson as his matter remained sub-judice. Meanwhile, Tennyson was ordered by the Madras HC not to enter the college campus.
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