Madras HC comes down heavily on Christian coed institutions

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday observed that there was a general feeling that coeducational study in Christian educational institutions was ‘highly unsafe’ for the future of girl children and though Christian missionaries impart good education, their preaching of morality would be a ‘million dollar question’.

The judge made the observations while refusing to quash a show-cause notice issued to a professor of Madras Christian College (MCC) facing sexual harassment charge from at least 34 girl students doing third-year Zoology course in the college.

“There is a general feeling among parents of students, especially female students, that coeducational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children,” Justice S Vaidyanathan said.

The judge further said Christian missionaries always came under attack for some issue or the other.
“In the present era, there are several accusations against them for indulging in compulsory conversion of people of other religions into Christianity…Though they impart good education, their preaching of morality will be a million dollar question,” Justice Vaidyanathan added.

Referring to misuse of several laws that had originally been brought to safeguard the welfare of women, the judge observed that it was time the government amended those laws to protect innocent men too.

“It is right time for the government to think of suitable amendment in those laws in order to prevent its misuse so as to safeguard the interest of the innocent masculinity too.”

In this regard, the judge wondered whether such beneficial legislations were being invoked by women for genuine reasons.

“Certain laws lend themselves to easy misuse that women will find it hard to resist the temptation to ‘teach a lesson to the male members’ and will file frivolous and false cases. A similar trend is already being observed in the case of anti-dowry law (498-A), which is being misused to such an extent that the Supreme Court has termed it legal terrorism,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.

Assistant Professor Samuel Tennyson of the Tambaram-based MCC moved the court to quash the findings of a Committee of Enquiry (Internal Complaints Committee) which probed the sexual harassment complaint against him, and to quash the consequential second show-cause notice to him on 24 May, 2019.

The alleged harassment occurred during an academic tour to Mysuru, Bengaluru and Coorg in January this year.

While Tennyson claimed that the internal complaints committee did not supply him certain documents and statements he had sought to be used in his defence, the college and the committee said he was given sufficient opportunity to defend himself and to cross-examine the complainants.
The judge declined to interfere with both the findings of the committee and the second show-cause notice to Tennyson.

“This court finds justification in the act of the Committee…in the considered opinion of this court, there is no violation of the principles of natural justice by the Committee in the conduct of the enquiry and this court finds no infirmity with the report of the Committee,” the judge added.