The Appellate Authority of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has upheld the punishments and fines imposed on all 21 students in connection with the February 9 event on campus in which “anti-India” slogans were allegedly raised. With this order, the penalised students have exhausted the last avenue to challenge their punishments within the university structure.
While the university has reduced the fine of some students including JNU Students’ Union general secretary Rama Naga and joint secretary Saurabh Sharma, for some students — including Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya — the punishment remains the same.
However, Komal Mohite, one of the organisers of the programme, has had her hostel facility withdrawn for a longer period.
The students are also expected to deposit their fines within two weeks, along with an undertaking they have to sign. It says the students will not take part in any “unauthorised event”, “abide by rules/regulations”, “ensure that there is no breach of discipline” by them and the”dignity of the university” is upheld.
Many students who had approached the Delhi High Court against the decision of JNU’s High-Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC) — a panel set up by the university which had found the 21 students guilty of indiscipline — said they will consider challenging the decision of the Appellate Authority in court. The HC had stayed the punishments and asked the university to start an appeals process.
The HLEC report had rusticated Umar for one semester and imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on him while Anirban was rusticated till July 15 and told to be “out of bounds” for a period of five years, from July 23. The vice-chancellor, who acted as the Appellate Authority with the assistance of a four-member committee set up on June 16, has upheld the same quantum of punishment.
The two students who were barred from hostel facilities – Ashutosh Kumar and Komal Mohite – have faced different actions. Ashutosh’s fine has been reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 15,000 but he is still banned from the hostel for one year, as was the case before. Mohite had earlier been prohibited from using the hostel for one semester, but the Appellate Authority has now increased the punishment period to two semesters, said sources.
The Appellate Authority has also reduced the fines for some students. Rama Naga’s fine has been reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 10,000 while Anant Prakash Narayan and Shweta Raj’s fines have been reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 5,000. Similarly, Saurabh Sharma’s fine has also been reduced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000. A fine of Rs 20,000 each imposed on some of the organisers — Reyaz-ul-Haque, Anwesha and Aswathi Nair — has been retained, said students.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Anant Prakash Narayan said, “We will consult our lawyers on how to take this further.”