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Calcutta High Court sets aside rustication of three VBU students, advises V-C to be more inclusive

The latest order came a week after the court, in an interim verdict, stayed the expulsion of the students and allowed them to rejoin classes.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
September 16, 2021 5:50:03 am
Students protest outside the central office of Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal. (PTI)

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday set aside Visva-Bharati University’s orders rusticating three students over allegations of gross indiscipline and misconduct, and advised Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and the university administration to be more inclusive and avoid “unecessary confrontation”.

The latest order came a week after the court, in an interim verdict, stayed the expulsion of the students and allowed them to rejoin classes. On Tuesday, the three students moved the court against Bidyut Chakraborty, accusing him of contempt of court. They alleged that they had not been provided links for online classes in violation of the court’s order.

Hearing a writ petition, a single-judge bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said in an order on Wednesday, “The orders of rustication have now become infructuous. Hence, in the interest of and for the ends of justice, as a special case, without creating any precedent, the orders of rustication are set aside. This order is passed in the very peculiar facts and circumstances of the case on the undertaking of the three students that there shall be peace and order in the University henceforth.”

Advising Chakraborty to be more tolerant, the court said, “This court is also compelled to observe that the vice-chancellor and the management should take a more convivial accessible and inclusive approach in dealing with the affairs of the university particularly the professors, teachers, staff as well as the students. Unnecessary confrontation should be avoided. It is expected that the vice-chancellor would follow the above with letter and spirit.”

Justice Mantha also urged the university administration to adopt a “pragmatic view” in reviewing the suspension of a large number of teachers and staff.

“At least 60-70 teachers, staff and professors have been suspended by the university. The said orders of suspension shall be reviewed in terms of the statute of the university, within a period of 15 days from the date. It is expected that the university would take a very pragmatic view in the matter,” the court said, adding, “Professors, teachers and staff who have been terminated from service or those whose salary and emoluments have been stopped, refused or altered, shall be entitled to take appropriate legal measures in this regard. The university shall not be prevented from taking any suo motu decision to revise, modify or recall any of the aforesaid orders.”

Claiming that the three students could not have caused a “mayhem” on the campus, the High Court judge alleged that political parties and outsiders were misusing educational institutions and the students could have been used as a front to bring the institution to a standstill.

“This court finds that three 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 alter of politics and a political slugfest. Educational institutions are being misused as breeding grounds by political parties. Consequently, classes and educational activities are disrupted,” said Justice Mantha.

He added, “The three 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. Outsiders and political parties have absolutely no role to play in internal matters of an educational institution. Every grievance of any nature of any section has to be taken to the right forum under the relevant rules or the applicable law of the land.”

Meanwhile, the High Court ordered the withdrawal of the protection provided to Chakraborty during the protests. “The posting of armed guards from the Santiniketan Police Station to secure the vice-chancellor are not deemed necessary any further. They shall be withdrawn with effect from 8 pm tomorrow, 16th September 2021,” it said.

The High Court had provided the security detail to the vice-chancellor in an interim order on September 3 as protesters had started protesting outside his residence. The protests began on August 27, four days after the students — Rupa Chakraborty, Falguni Pan, and Somnath Sow — were expelled for allegedly “disrupting the academic atmosphere in the university…and being involved in disorderly conduct in the name of protest” earlier this year.

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