HC rues politics in educational institutes, sets aside rustication of Visva-Bharati students

Calcutta High Court on Wednesday observed that the noble cause of education has been slaughtered at the altar of politics and a political slugfest.

HC rues politics in educational institutes, sets aside rustication of Visva-Bharati students Calcutta High Court observed politics included in Visva Bharati University students protest
Press Trust of India | Sep 15, 2021 - 9:28 p.m. IST
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KOLKATA: Setting aside rustication of three students by Visva-Bharati university authorities that had led to an impasse at the institute of repute, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday observed that the noble cause of education has been slaughtered at the altar of politics and a political slugfest.

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Holding that only three students could not have caused the "mayhem" at the university but for the support of influential outsiders, Justice Rajasekhar Mantha observed that educational institutions are being misused by political parties. "It is sad to note that the noble cause of education has been slaughtered at the altar of politics and a political slugfest," Justice Mantha said in the order.

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Students and other people had laid siege to the official residence of Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty since August 27 and allegedly locked several offices of the university at Shantiniketan. The gherao was lifted on a September 3 order of the high court after the vice-chancellor moved a petition before it. In a word of advice to the vice-chancellor and the university management, the court asked them to take a more accessible and inclusive approach.

"This court is also compelled to observe that the Vice-Chancellor and the management should take a more convivial, accessible and inclusive approach in dealing with the affairs of the University particularly the professors, teachers, staff as well as the students. Unnecessary confrontation should be avoided and it is expected that the Vice-chancellor would follow the above with letter and spirit, Justice Mantha said.

Visva Bharati University students' protest

The court said, "Educational institutions are being misused as breeding grounds by political parties", as a consequence of which classes and educational activities are disrupted. "Exams are not held in time and results do not come out in time. The students are compelled to move to other private institutions within and outside the State, where they are treated as customers," he observed.

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Noting that some students are also compelled to give up education for want of funds, the court said parents who toil in sweat and blood to provide education to their children lose faith and "the nation stares at a bleak future." The court observed that the three students appear to have been used as a front by some vested interests to bring the university to a standstill.

Holding that all students of the university have suffered as a consequence, Justice Mantha said, "Outsiders and political parties have absolutely no role to play in internal matters of an educational institution." The court said every grievance of any nature of any section has to be taken to the right forum under the relevant rules or the applicable law of the land.

In his order on September 8 in this matter, Justice Mantha had observed that a level of education and maturity is required for a student to make an informed decision before accepting or following any ideology. "In the absence of such education, the exposure to ideology of any political outfit would amount to indoctrination. This is undesirable,” he had said.

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Noting that the September 8 order in which he had stayed the rustication order and allowed them to participate in their academic activities, has been complied with by the university, Justice Mantha on Wednesday set aside the rustication of the three students. The court said this order was passed on the undertaking of the three students that there will be peace and order in the university henceforth.

On the submission of senior counsel Arunava Ghosh that at least 60 to 70 teaching and non-teaching staff have been suspended by the university, the court directed that such orders of suspension will be reviewed in terms of the statute of the university, within a period of 15 days from date, observing that "It is expected that the University take a very pragmatic view in the matter."

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