“Suffers from vice of illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety” — that’s how the Delhi High Court described an order of the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s appellate authority, which had imposed a penalty on its former students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with a 2016 incident, wherein alleged anti-India slogans were raised on campus.
Setting aside JNU’s order, Justice Siddharth Mridul said it was “unsustainable on innumerable counts”, after which the counsel for the varsity submitted that they are recalling the decision.
The court remanded the matter back to the appellate authority to conduct de novo proceedings in accordance with law. Kumar had moved High Court on July 17, seeking directions to quash the office order of July 4, passed by JNU through the chief proctor. Kumar was held guilty for committing an act in violation of discipline and a fine of Rs 10,000 was imposed on him. The February 9, 2016 event was held to mark the third anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging.
The JNU panel had recommended that another student, Umar Khalid, be rusticated and had imposed financial penalty on 13 students for violation of disciplinary norms.
On July 5, the university had revealed that the appellate authority upheld the decision against Khalid and Kumar, and in some cases the penalty had been reduced.
The court did not pass any order on pleas by Khalid and another student, Anirban Bhattacharya, but directed JNU not to take coercive steps against them till further orders. Justice Siddharth Mridul observed that “the court was of the prima facie view that the decision was unsustainable on innumerable counts”. He also observed orally: “I am of the considered view that the impugned office order (dated July 4) suffers from vice of illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety.”
“Although the order purports to impose only a fine of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner (Kumar), the action against him constitutes a disciplinary action entailing serious civil consequences for him. In my view, the office order is unsustainable on innumerable counts,” the court added.