The St Stephen’s College student at the centre of a public spat with his principal on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court for quashing his suspension and revoking the ban imposed on the publication of a Web magazine he edited.
The petition says Devansh Mehta, a third-year philosophy student, is “aggrieved by the arbitrary and unreasonable” actions of principal Valson Thampu and any attempt to “stifle” the fundamental right of freedom of speech would “sound a death knell for democracy” and “would help usher in dictatorship”.
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Filing the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, Mehta has moved court on the grounds that the decision to initiate proceedings against him is “illegal” and “vitiated by the participation of the principal”.
“The principal participated by framing the terms of the inquiry and initiating the inquiry by appointing a one-man committee. It is settled in law that the complainant cannot be a party to the decision-making process…,” Mehta stated in his petition. The High Court will be hearing the matter on Friday.
Mehta in his petition also states that “even if” he had “indeed” published the interview of the principal “without his approval” and the “same not being defamatory in nature”, such action cannot be regarded as “defamatory to warrant such serious action” on the part of the principal. “Because a legitimate exercise of one’s right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India such as expressing one’s view to the press can never be a ground for misconduct…every free citizen has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public,” Mehta said in his petition.
Mehta has also said that Delhi University is “duty-bound” to ensure the affiliated colleges follow university regulations and his conduct in this case “does not fall foul of the regulations of university on discipline”.
Mehta says the inquiry ordered by Thampu against him was “clearly premeditated” and the decision of the principal to suspend him as well as to take away the prize are “tainted by malice” as the principal has “already condemned” him even before the committee report was ready.