ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Revocation of Expulsion Order

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People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Maharashtra welcomes the decision of the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV) to revoke its expulsion order of six students from the university. The issuance of the expulsion order was not just undemocratic, but illegal too. It also bodes ill for academic freedom and the right to dissent.

The six students were expelled on 9 October 2019, for organising a programme for students to write letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on issues ranging from the sedition case against 49 intellectuals, the lynching of Dalits and Muslims, the proposed privatisation of the railways and public sector units like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, etc. In what is clearly an absurd, excessive and patently illegal act, the central university said that the charges for the expulsion notices which were issued on 10 October were that the students were violating the “model code of conduct” in operation throughout Maharashtra in the light of the forthcoming assembly elections. An additional reason cited was that the act of the students, in attempting to write letters to the Prime Minister, was ‘‘interference in the judicial process.” The expelled students were Chandan Saroj, Neeraj Kumar, Rajesh Yadav Sarthi, Rajnish Ambedkar, Pankaj Wela and Vaibhav Pimpalkar. The students belong to Dalit and Other Backward Classes categories.

PUCL Maharashtra learnt that the university authorities had denied permission to the students to organise a programme on 9 October to commemorate the Parinirvan Divas of Dalit Bahujan leader Kanshi Ram and to write letters to the Prime Minister. The students had sought permission two days before, on 7 October, but both programmes were denied permission. The university issued a circular that “disciplinary action would be taken if any programme was done on the university campus without permission.” At no point were the students told that the programme would violate the model code of conduct of the Election Commission! Now, the university cited the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules for denying permission to the students. The students, who protested the decision of the university administration, had assembled at the university gates to go ahead with their letter-writing programme. Shockingly, the university deployed a large number of security forces to prevent the students from entering Gandhi Hill, a popular tourist spot near Wardha. The students sat at the entrance of the park to go ahead with their programme.

PUCL Maharashtra maintains that the students have the democratic right to express themselves peacefully. Indeed, it is the duty of the university to encourage and enable students to question and debate important issues of the day. Further, PUCL Maharashtra points out that the model code of conduct applies to political parties and their candidates, not to students, even if they happen to study in a central university.

PUCL Maharashtra appreciates that the vice chancellor of the university rescinded the expulsion notices to the six students. The university authorities responded only after there was widespread condemnation of this act, as well as the directive of Wardha collector Vivek Bhimanwar to revoke the expulsion letters on the grounds that the university had no authority to invoke the model code of conduct for the coming elections. However, PUCL Maharashtra hopes that no further punitive action is taken against the students and that academic freedom is preserved and protected on campus.

Mihir Desai

Convenor, Ad-Hoc Committee

People’s Union for Civil Liberties,Maharashtra

Updated On : 18th Oct, 2019

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