Educational Institutions Shouldn't Be Political Platforms: Delhi HC

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The case in question involved a Ph.D. student who contested her suspension, alleging procedural irregularities in the disciplinary process

The Delhi High Court has underscored that educational institutions should not serve as platforms for propagating party politics, emphasizing the importance of discipline among students.

The bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar articulated that while students have the right to engage in political activities, it should not disrupt the normal functioning of educational campuses.

The judge asserted that the primary function of educational institutions is to educate future leaders, and any political engagement should not compromise this core objective.

Court's remarks came while addressing a case involving the suspension of a Ph.D. student at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegedly manhandling a security guard. The judge expressed concern over several instances where disciplinary actions against students were overturned due to procedural lapses by college administrations.

Highlighting the need for strict adherence to procedural rules, Justice Shankar cautioned that failure to follow statutory protocols may lead to the nullification of disciplinary actions. The Court stressed that while innocent students deserve fair treatment, leniency towards those involved in disruptive activities could embolden them to continue such behavior.

"If the student concerned is innocent, that, of course, would be just and fair; on the other hand, if the student is actually complicit in the allegations against her, or him, victory in a judicial battle harbours the pernicious possibility of her, or him, being emboldened to continue such activities," it said. 

"If, therefore, the University, or institution, is serious about instilling discipline in its premises, it has to ensure that enquiries conducted against students suspected of unpardonable indiscipline, and punishments awarded consequent thereto, are in strict compliance with the statutory protocol," the court added. 

The high court's advice comes amidst a wave of disciplinary disputes within educational institutions, urging administrations to maintain order while upholding students' rights.

The case in question involved a Ph.D. student who contested her suspension, alleging procedural irregularities in the disciplinary process. Court found merit in the argument and overturned the suspension, directing the student's reinstatement at JNU.

The court said, "I have to pen this advisory note only because this is the third case, in two weeks, in which I have had to interfere with the punishment awarded to students suspected of seriously disruptive activities only because the University, or institution, concerned has been casual about following the statutory protocol in proceeding against the allegedly erring student."

"In the present case, there have been several breaches of this procedure, not all of which can be explained away by asserting that the petitioner had not attended the enquiry despite three requests ..The petitioner is, therefore, directed to be reinstated in the JNU and allotted a hostel for her accommodation," court said.

It clarified that, "This shall, however, not prevent the JNU from proceeding against the petitioner, if it so desires, strictly in accordance with law and in complete compliance with the provisions of Statues governing the JNU."

Case Title: Swati Singh v. JNU