A Delhi court proved to be a tough taskmaster for a student pursuing MA in English, who was asked to name 10 works of William Shakespeare. The task was given to the student during the hearing of a case registered against him and another student for allegedly defacing public property.
With their hands crossed behind their back and heads bowed, the two students stood in front of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass, who first asked, “Who put up the posters?” The posters the judge was referring to were allegedly put up by these students during the Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) elections last year.
Delhi Police had booked four students in connection with the case — two of them did not turn up in court — under the provisions of the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007. If convicted, they can be jailed for up to two years or have to pay a fine of Rs 50,000, or both.
The court initially asked one of the students about the course he was pursuing. “Final year MA,” responded the student. The court then asked what his subjects were and what he had studied. A brief pause followed the question, after which the student replied, “Literature.” He told the court that he couldn’t remember immediately because of his lack of focus on studies.
The court asked him if he remembered any of the writers whose works he had to study as part of his syllabus. This time, the student said, “Shakespeare”. “You have studied Shakespeare. You must be knowing his poems and stories. Write ten stories of Shakespeare,” directed the court. The student seemed clueless, and taken aback, when he was handed a blank sheet of paper.
As the first student tried to remember what he had studied, the court shifted its focus to the other student. On inquiring about her area of interest, the court found out that the political science student was keen on competing for the civil service. A few minutes later, the MA student handed over the paper to the court. Oddly, he had written the names of authors.
The court tried to decipher the names of the authors jotted down by the student — Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Premchand among them — and realised that he had misspelt Shakespeare’s name. “You haven’t even spelt it correctly and you want to be a student leader,” the court asked and adjourned the matter to September 8.
The two students, however, claimed that the posters bearing their names and details had been put up by their friends, who helped them campaign. They said they had apologised about the incident and were ready to pay a penalty.