'Tainted' Kerala law college closed indefinitely

'Tainted' Kerala law college closed indefinitely

The management of Kerala Law Academy Law College — where a mass student protest is on demanding the resignation of its principal — announced indefinite closure of the institution on Sunday.

Authorities in the college, who had earlier announced that classes would resume on Monday, decided against it in the wake of reports of possible tension in the campus.
Major student organisations, barring the ruling CPM-affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI), are continuing an agitation demanding resignation of principal P Lekshmi Nair following charges of abusive behaviour, maladministration and discrepancies in management of finances. The SFI ended its protest on January 31 after the institution’s board of directors agreed to move Lakshmi out of office for five years.

The other student outfits, however, maintain that the agreement had no legal validity and Lekshmi had options to challenge the board’s decision in court. The Kerala University has approved findings of a sub-committee which highlighted “serious irregularities” and “maladministration” in the college. Lekshmi is also a celebrity chef and hosts popular cookery shows.

Controversies surrounding the college have snowballed into a political issue that has also exposed a rift within the Left government. While the CPI and its student wing All India Students’ Federation (AISF) demanded Lekshmi’s ouster, the CPM criticised moves to “politicise” what it called an issue pertaining to students.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s non-committal stance on the issue and Lekshmi’s ties with the CPM — her uncle Koliakkode Krishnan Nair is a member of the party’s state committee — have added to criticism against the ruling party. Activists of the AISF, BJP-affiliated ABVP and Congress-affiliated KSU allege that the college management and SFI held negotiations without taking other student outfits into confidence.

The KSU on Monday called for a strike at educational institutions in Thiruvananthapuram protesting the government’s “anti-student” policies.

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