The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the police to ensure that the Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and other officials are not stopped from entering or exiting the varsity’s administrative block. It also directed that any ‘dharna’ or protest at the university shall be held peacefully but not within 100 metres of the administrative block and ordered the Delhi Police to ensure compliance of the two directions by use of its officers, if necessary. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, however, sensitised the senior police officers present in court about the manner in which they have to deal with the students if there is any untoward incident. The court also issued notice to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) and sought presence of their office bearers on the next date to explain the reason for their agitation.
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The union’s office bearers’ presence was required as the judge was of the view that “the issue pertains to a university and the relation between the university and students” and the problem should be resolved by dialogues and mediation and not by adjudication. “I feel, the issue instead of being strictly adjudicated should be resolved by way of dialogue, mediation and counselling,” the judge said.
The students are protesting the recent amendments made in the JNU admission policy which they claim will lead to a massive cut in M.Phil and Ph.D seats. The admission policy was framed subsequent to a University Grants Commission (UGC) notification of May 5 last year capping the number of students per supervisor in M.Phil and Ph.D courses.
The JNU administration, which had come to court against the blocking of its administrative block by agitating students, said the “university will install CCTV cameras in and around the administrative building” to step up security. The court directed JNU to preserve 30 days footage of the cameras and to make it available to local police, if required or demanded by them.
The court issued directions on JNU administration’s interim plea that police assistance be provided to their officials, including the VC, as their ingress and egress was being blocked by the students, who according to the status report of Delhi Police are on a peaceful hunger strike. However, the senior cops present in court said that whenever a university official or the VC tries to enter or exit the block the students block them.
The second interim relief JNU has sought was directions to the police to ensure that no protest or ‘dharna’ be allowed within 200 metres of the block. Delhi Police, during the hearing, told the court that students have vacated the block and have moved to a distance of 50 metres from it.
The students were initially sitting at the administrative block, which they have named as ‘Freedom Square’. The administration, in its plea, has claimed a “siege” of the university. During Thursday’s hearing, the police submitted that two FIRs have been registered on the complaint of the JNU administration.