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Monday, September 27, 2021

Calcutta High Court revokes rustication of three Visva-Bharati University students

The court also pointed out that members of the university faculty were “equally aggrieved” by the “alleged high-handedness” of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: September 9, 2021 5:44:22 am
Calcutta High Court,Calcutta High Court (File Photo)

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday revoked the rustication order of three Visva-Bharati University (VBU) students, and allowed them to rejoin classes. The court also pointed out that members of the university faculty were “equally aggrieved” by the “alleged high-handedness” of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty.

Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said the rustication of the students for three years was harsh and excessive. In an interim order, he said, “This Court is of the prima facie view that the punishment of rustication for a period of three years is excessive and disproportionate to the charge against the students. The said order of rustication shall be kept in abeyance. The students shall be allowed to participate in their academic activities. The professors and teachers of the university are equally aggrieved by the alleged high-handedness of the Vice-Chancellor of the university. The professors may institute appropriate proceedings challenging the orders of suspension in accordance with law.”

The judge posted the matter for hearing again on September 15.

On August 23, the university administration had expelled Rupa Chakraborty, who started a hunger strike on Sunday, Somnath Sow, and Falguni Pan for allegedly “disrupting the academic atmosphere in the university…and being involved in disorderly conduct in the name of protest” earlier this year. Their rustication sparked widespread protests on the campus that also saw a section of the faculty join in. The protests began on August 27, with some of the demonstrators starting a sit-in outside the V-C’s residence. They demanded the revocation of the expulsion order, and the removal of Bidyut Chakroborty.

The Calcutta High Court on September 3 barred demonstrations outside the V-C’s home. It said protests cannot be held within 50 metres of either the academic and administrative buildings on the campus or the Bidyut Chakraborty’s residence.

The court on Wednesday again ruled that there should be no more protests on the campus. “All demonstrations, mass protests, dharna, strikes and/or agitation by the students or on their behalf inside or beyond the University Campus shall cease forthwith. All platforms structures constructed for the said purpose must be dismantled immediately,” said the judge.

Following the court’s order, Rupa Chakraborty, one of the expelled students, ended her hunger strike. She said, “We have been asking for this and the court has granted it today. We never wanted to disrupt the academic atmosphere of the university. We only staged a protest against our expulsion. We are calling off our hunger strike today. However, our movement against the V-C and several irregularities at the university will continue in a different form.”

Somnath Sow, too, said the protests against the vice-chancellor would continue.

— With PTI inputs

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