Who won the KLA Battle?

After the management agreed to meet demands put forward by students, the Kerala Law Academy stir ended with the students ending their strike. The 29-day long distress began over alleged irregularities in giving internal marks and harassment of students by the Principal Dr. Lekshmi Nair.

The issue has caused a ripple effect with political leaders going on fast to students demanding resignation of the Principal. As the turmoil ended, the management declared that Dr. Lekshmi Nair will not be holding the post of Principal. The management agreed to appoint a new principal with all required qualification as prescribed by Kerala University as soon as possible. An agreement to this effect has been signed between students and representatives at the chamber of C Ravendranath, Education Minister, Kerala Government. However legal experts doubt the validity of such an agreement and many opine that the agreement may not stand the test of law if challenged before a Court.

An earlier statement released by the Students Federation of India (SFI) after a meeting with the management to resolve the issue, said that the Dr. Lekshmi Nair will step away for five years and will not continue as a faculty during those five years. Even the University had taken note of this and issued a press release on this regard. However this was not acceptable to other Student Unions and they continued their strike unlike SFI who withdrew from the strike.

The new agreement between Student Unions including SFI and the management has only decided to appoint a new Principal. It has nothing to indicate that she will not be a part of the faculty or if she would stay away from the campus for the next five years. The new agreement seems just to be one to save the face of Student Unions continuing the strike; and to somehow end the strike and attend their exams which has been already notified.

Perhaps, the initial agreement between SFI and the management was a much guarded document in terms of protecting student interests. There is a limit to which a Government can interfere in the administration of a private college and mere government seal or a Minister’s signature on an agreement would not bring any value addition. Things will now become easier for Dr. Lekshmi Nair if she wishes to pursue a legal battle, particularly because there is no bar on her continuing as a faculty.
The only logical reason why the other student unions never agreed to the SFI’s agreement with the management is that they were never parties to that agreement and hence cannot derive political mileage out of it. All that at the cost of students!

The controversy also saw BJP leader V. Muraleedharan and Congress Leader K. Muraleedharan staging an indefinite hunger strike till death in solidarity with students, demanding the management to give in to the demands of the students. However V. Muraleedharan’s indefinite hunger strike till death lasted only till his arrest and VV Rajesh had to continue the relay strike.

In the meantime, as Dr. Lekshmi Nair released an open letter through The Kochi Post trying to clarify her stand on matters; she was mercilessly trolled on the internet. She had to face severe personal attacks including those against her family members. Dr. Nair filed an official complaint against the trolls. She stated that the trolls were seriously derogatory.

The controversy also became an avenue for alumni of Kerala Law Academy to vent out their emotions (at the cost of present students) which they never did when they were in the college. Also some of the former students and erstwhile leaders of student unions used it as an opportunity to launch their mainstream political career.

A 73-year-old man watching the stir by students in front of the law college died yesterday of cardiac arrest. There were suicide attempts also staged demanding to resolve the issue immediately.

Incidentally, there has also been an advertisement in the local newspaper for the position of Principal under the name of the Director, Dr. N. Narayanan Nair. Classes in Kerala Law Academy will resume from Monday.

Those who demanded nothing less than resignation of Dr. Lekshmi Nair, now argue that removing her from the Principal’s post is as good as her resignation. However facts prove otherwise. She will continue as a faculty and can come back anytime as a Principal, if she challenges the ouster from the post of Principal.


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