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‘Can’t punish a student for viewpoint different from govt’: Sisodia asks Ambedkar University to cancel Rs 5,000 fine

Neha, a final semester M.A. Performance Studies student, had been issued the fine on June 30, which she had to pay to be able to sit for her final exams.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 5, 2021 6:52:25 pm
Manish SisodiaOn Monday, Sisodia wrote to Delhi’s Principal Secretary Higher Education asking that he ensure that the fine is cancelled and that no action is taken against her. (File Photo)

After a student of Ambedkar University was fined Rs 5,000 for allegedly posting “distasteful remarks” about Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia during the university’s online convocation, Sisodia has directed that the student’s fine be cancelled.

Neha, a final semester M.A. Performance Studies student, had been issued the fine on June 30, which she had to pay to be able to sit for her final exams.

During the online convocation, she had posted comments on the YouTube live streaming link to protest against AUD’s admission policy, including fee hike and alleged discrimination against SC/ST students.While the proctor’s order stated that she used “slur/distasteful remarks”, she maintains that she was singled out and she was one of dozen other students who were part of the online protest.

On Monday, Sisodia wrote to Delhi’s Principal Secretary Higher Education asking that he ensure that the fine is cancelled and that no action is taken against her.

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“Firstly, no action should be taken against any student for expressing a viewpoint that is different from the Government or the University, unless the said statement damages the social fabric of our country or is against our constitutional values. Secondly, since the student was expressing her viewpoint against the government, as being reported in media, the matter should have first been brought to our notice before initiating any action against her,” he wrote, also asking that the Principal Secretary issue directions to all universities under the Delhi government that no such action be taken against students for expressing their opinions “unless they are damaging to the social fabric of our country or go against constitutional values”.

He went on to write about the importance of free speech in universities.

“No student should be punished for exercising their right to free speech within the university space. Students are the future of our country and if we do not allow them the opportunity to critique, to comment and to develop their own voice, we set up our country for a bleak future where people will lack courage to stand up against injustice… If voices of criticism and dissent cannot be expressed against political leaders in our country, then we are no longer a democracy but a dictatorship,” he wrote.

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