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Maharashtra govt ‘gags’ college students,draws fire

The directive is among a set of rules for 'maintenance of disciple and good conduct by students'.

Written by Ardhra Nair | Pune | Published: July 27, 2013 2:54:21 am

The Maharashtra government has directed college students across the state to take permission from their principals before talking to the media or any other outside agency about their problems. Those who do not follow the directive will face a fine of up to Rs 5,000 or even be rusticated,according to the directive.

The directive is among a set of rules for “maintenance of disciple and good conduct by students” that have come into force from July 1,according to a circular put up on the web site of University of Pune.

Under the title “Obligations of students”,the circular says that the students “shall not lodge any complaint or make any representation regarding any matter connected with the Institution to press or other outside institution/agency without forwarding the same through the Head of the concerned Institution”. The competent authority can fine a student up to Rs 5,000,suspend him or even rusticate him depending on the gravity of the offence,the circular said.

University of Pune Vice-Chancellor W N Gade said,“The circular came from Mantralaya. This circular is not of our making. This was sent to us by the state government. I think this only means that if there is some complaint,the college should be informed first. I think there is a need to re-interpret the clause. We will discuss about it with the government authorities.”

The order has not gone down well with the students,who termed it a “gag order”. “This kind of gag order is actually against our constitutional right of free speech. How can the university censor our speech? This order is an attempt by the university to stop students from talking the media about the wrongdoings,” said Sidharth Sharma,founder-president,Bharatiya Krantikari Sanghatna.

(Inputs from Manoj)

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