The Allahabad High Court has struck down an order terminating the contract of Magsaysay awardee Sandee Pandey as a visiting faculty member by IIT-Banaras Hindu University, holding that the ex-parte action on charges like anti-national activities which have “serious aspersions” violated “the principle of natural justice”.
A division bench comprising Justices V K Shukla and Mahesh Chandra Tripathi yesterday allowed the petition filed by Pandey, who had challenged the order dated January 6, 2016 terminating his contract whereby he had been appointed a “Visiting Professor” in Department of Chemical Engineering and his tenure was to come to an end on July 30 this year.
In the impugned order, Pandey, who is also a Gandhian activist, was told that the decision to terminate his contract was taken at a meeting of the Board of Governors of IIT (BHU) which held him guilty of “cyber crime” and acting “against national interest”.
The Board of Governors had taken cognizance of letter from a student of political science at BHU, who had charged Pandey with “involvement in political activities and being an active sympathizer of naxalites”.
Pandey’s counsel Rahul Mishra argued that “decision in question has been taken by the authorities concerned to silence the voice of the petitioner merely because distinctive ideology was practiced by him”.
Quashing the order, the court remarked that “the case in hand is not a termination simpliciter, rather it is punitive/stigmatic order” in which “heavy words such as commission of cyber crime and acting against national interest have been loosely used”.
“All these allegations are serious in nature and such allegations have serious aspersions on the conduct and character of an incumbent and the way manner in which decision in question has been taken ex-parte can not be approved by us,” the court added.
“Here, in pith and substance, the petitioner has been attributed with misconduct and without holding inquiry, violating the principle of natural justice,” the court said adding that the impugned order “clearly casts stigma on the character of petitioner and is punitive in nature”.
Pandey was awarded the prestigious Magsaysay Award in 2002 in the emergent leadership category.