Calcutta High Court sets aside rustication of Visva-Bharati students

‘Educational institutions are being misused as breeding grounds by political parties’

The Calcutta High Court on September 15 set aside the rustication of three Visva-Bharati students who were punished for taking part in a demonstration in January 2020, and came down heavily on “outsiders and political parties” for what it called the misuse of educational institutions.

The three students — 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” but their rustication had been placed in abeyance by the court last week. September 15th’s order would be seen as a victory for them and for the detractors of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bidyut Chakrabarty.

“…in the interest of and for the ends of justice, as a special case, without creating any precedent, the orders of rustication are set aside. This order is passed in the very peculiar facts and circumstances of the case on the undertaking of the three students that there shall be peace and order in the University henceforth,” Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said in his order.

He said the three students could not have caused the mayhem at the University but for the “support of influential outsiders”. “It is sad to note that the noble cause of education has been slaughtered at the altar of politics and a political slugfest. Educational institutions are being misused as breeding grounds by political parties,” Justice Mantha further said.

The judge said the three students appeared to have been used as a front by some vested interests to bring the University to a standstill. “The entire lot of students of the University has suffered as a consequence. Outsiders and political parties have absolutely no role to play in internal matters of an educational institution,” he said.

On the suspension of teaching and non-teaching staff, the judge said: “The said orders of suspension shall be reviewed in terms of the statute of the university within a period of 15 days from date. It is expected that the university take a very pragmatic view in the matter.”

Justice Mantha asked the Vice-Chancellor and the management to take a “more convivial accessible and inclusive approach” in dealing with the affairs of the University and that “unnecessary confrontation” should be avoided. He also withdrew his earlier order that armed personnel from the Santiniketan Police Station guard the V-C, saying the arrangement was no longer necessary.

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