Calcutta HC stays Visva-Bharati students’ ‘excessive’ punishment, asks stir to be lifted | Kolkata News – Times of India


KOLKATA: Observing that the punishment was “excessive and disproportionate” to the charge, Calcutta high court on Wednesday “kept in abeyance” the three-year rustication of three Visva-Bharati students, directing the university to allow them to take part in all academic activity. The court also ordered all forms of protest — both on or off campus — to stop with immediate effect.
The matter will be heard again on September 15.
“All platforms, structures constructed for the said purpose must be dismantled immediately,” Justice Rajashekhar Mantha said in his order.
The court also allowed the 79 aggrieved teachers of the central university facing disciplinary action — suspension and denial of pension benefits — to file applications, adding them as respondents by a week.
Justice Mantha, taking note of the allegations against the students (that they had broken the seal on a professor’s door in the economics building), observed: “It appears that a special enquiry committee was constituted by the VC to enquire into the allegations. The students were heard and a punishment of rustication was passed for three years. The court is of the prima facie view that that is excessive and disproportionate to the charge against the students. The order of rustication shall be kept in abeyance.”
The court also ordered against continuing the dharna on the varsity campus and sympathizers throwing their weight behind the students off-campus. “A basic level of education and maturity is required for a student to take an informed decision before accepting or following an ideology. Exposure to raw ideologies in the absence of such education would amount to indoctrination,” Justice Mantha observed.
Late in the evening, there was no sign of compliance with the HC’s directive, either by the Visva-Bharati authorities or the agitating students. The latter blocked a university car carrying acting registrar Ashok Mahato and public relations officer Tanmay Nag to vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty’s official residence at Purbita in the evening, after the court’s order. One of the students lay down in front of the car, forcing the university officials to beat a retreat. Nor did Visva-Bharati issue any notification keeping the rustication of the students in abeyance.
Students continued with the agitation but celebrated the court order staying the rustication. “We are yet to get a copy of the order. Members of the joint platform, including students and teachers, will sit together and decide the future course of action once we get the copy,” said student leader Somnath Sou amid slogans against the VC.
Suspended economics teacher and faculty association president Sudipta Bhattacharyya, welcoming the court order, said: “We welcome the court order on students. We will join as added parties against the disciplinary actions taken against teachers and employees.”


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