The Supreme Court on Friday stayed further proceedings in the Madras High Court against Tamil magazine Nakkheeran for publishing articles allegedly denigrating Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, PTI reported.

A report published by the magazine allegedly insinuated that the governor and senior Raj Bhavan officials had links with Nirmala Devi, an assistant professor of a college in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu. Devi was arrested in April on charges of attempted trafficking of college girls.

A bench headed by Justice SA Nazeer on Friday agreed to examine the Tamil Nadu government’s plea against the Madras High Court order staying proceedings against the magazine’s editor R Rajagopal, who is popularly known as Nakkheeran Gopal.

On June 4, the Madras High Court had granted interim relief to Gopal by staying proceedings in a lower court in a case against him. “This is the first case after Independence wherein the court has been called upon to consider whether a publication by itself will have the effect of overawing his Excellency the Governor to prevent him from exercising his lawful powers and duties,” Justice N Anand Venkatesh had said in his interim order.

The case

Gopal was arrested in October last year based on a complaint from the governor’s office. He was released within hours of his arrest after a court rejected the police plea.

The police had tried to charge Gopal under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with assault of the president or governor with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power. The Raj Bhavan had complained against a report in the magazine that appeared in the April 2018 issue on the alleged sex scandal at Madurai Kamaraj University.

A senior faculty member of the Madurai Kamaraj University was arrested in April for allegedly luring students to provide sexual favours to senior university officials. V Murugan, an assistant professor, was accused of working with Devanga Arts College professor Nirmala Devi to lure young women.

In a leaked audio clip, Devi claimed that she knew Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, who is also the chancellor of the university.

The magazine then carried a cover story in its September 2018 issue titled Met Governor Four Times, Shocking Revelation by Nirmala Devi – her life in danger. The report had alleged that several influential people were involved in the case and that authorities planned to close the investigation without inquiring further.

Purohit has denied any links with Devi. He had ordered an inquiry into the matter by retired Indian Administrative Service officer R Santhanam.