Vested Political Interest Involved, Rustication Order of Students Set Aside by Calcutta HC
The Calcutta High Court in Visva Bharati and another Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors — W.P.A. No. 13553 of 2021 set aside rustication orders of three students passed by the special enquiry committee. The students were rusticated for three years for breaking the seal on the chamber of a professor and for causing disorder in the University. The court observed that students were used as a front by the vested political interests from outside the University.
The single-judge bench of Hon’ble Justice Rajasekhar Mantha held:
Educational institutions are being misused as breeding grounds by political parties. Consequently, classes and educational activities are disrupted. Exams are not held in time and results do not come out in time. The students are compelled to move to other private institutions within and outside the State, where they are treated as customers. Some students are also compelled to give up education for want of funds. Parents of students who toil in sweat and blood to provide education to their children, lose faith and the nation stares at a bleak future.
The three students were rusticated for apparent vandalism in the university where they had broken the seal on the door of the chamber of a professor which was situated in the Economics Building. Thereafter, the Vice-Chancellor of the university instituted a special enquiry committee to enquire into the allegations. The students were heard and punishment of rustication was passed for a period of three years.
The court had earlier passed interim orders on 08.09.2021 staying the rustication order. The court observed that rustication orders have become infructuous and set them aside. The counsel appearing for the intervenor has submitted that at least 60-70 teachers, staff and professors have been suspended by the university. The court directed that the suspension orders shall be reviewed by the University as per the Statute of the University taking a pragmatic approach. Also, professors and staffs aggrieved by the orders affecting their salary and emoluments have the liberty to take appropriate legal measures.
The court held:
This Court finds that 3 students could not have caused the mayhem at the University, but for the support of influential outsiders. It is sad to note that the noble cause of education has been slaughtered at the altar of politics and a political slugfest.
The Court added:
The 3 student respondents appear to have been used as a front by some vested interests to bring the University to a standstill. The entire lot of students of the University have suffered as a consequence
In conclusion, the court set aside rustication orders and observed that a more convivial and inclusive approach should be taken by the Vice-chancellor and Management while dealing with the affairs of the University as they are internal matters and outside political parties should be denied any role in it. The court also clarified that the orders are passed in peculiar facts of the case and on undertaking taken from students that there shall be peace and order in the University.
Interim order dated 08.09.2021:
08th September 2021, the court had passed an interim order staying the rustication orders of three students passed by the special enquiry committee observing that they were disproportionate and arbitrary.
The court had observed:
This Court is of the prima facie view that the punishment of rustication for a period of three years is excessive and disproportionate to the charge against the students. The said order of rustication shall be kept in abeyance. The students shall be allowed to participate in their academic activities. The professors and teachers of the University are equally aggrieved by the alleged high handedness of the Vice Chancellor of the University.
The court stayed the punishment as it deemed it disproportionate and observed that:
A basic level of education and maturity is required for a student to take an informed decision before accepting or following any ideology. Exposure to raw ideologies in the absence of such education would amount to indoctrination
The court had also directed that all demonstrations and protests ensued by the students should be ceased forthwith and structures constructed for the said purpose should be dismantled immediately.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL