The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday kept in abeyance Visva-Bharati’s rustication of its three students who had taken part in a demonstration in January 2020 and ordered them to rejoin classes immediately.
The three — Somnath Sow and Falguni Pan of economics and Rupa Chakraborty of Hindustani classical music — were expelled on August 23 for three years on grounds of “gross indiscipline and misconduct” and they had been staging a protest, supported by a section of teachers, local organisations and some political parties. They termed the court order as an “initial victory” for them.
The court also ordered immediate restoration of normalcy in the university and called for an end to demonstrations on the campus.
“The allegations in substance (against the rusticated students) are that they broke the seal on the door of the chamber of a professor at the economics building…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,” Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said in his order.
“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. The professors may institute appropriate proceedings challenging the orders of suspension in accordance with law,” the judge said.
“A basic level of education and maturity is required for a student to take an informed decision before accepting or following any ideology. Exposure to raw ideologies in the absence of such education would amount to indoctrination,” Justice Mantha further said, adding that all demonstrations, mass-protests, dharna, strikes and/or agitation by the students or on their behalf, inside or beyond the campus, shall cease forthwith.
The matter shall come up for hearing again on September 15.