New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday restrained students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from obstructing the vice-chancellor and other senior staff from entering the administrative block to carry out their work.
HC’s interim relief for JNU came on its contempt plea alleging that the protest near the administrative block has hampered the day-to-day functioning of the varsity, including disbursal of salaries in connection with Seventh Pay Commission.
Justice V K Rao issued a notice to JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) and sought a response by February 20 after additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain said the university’s attempts to serve a copy of the contempt plea were rebuffed by the union.
“We have not called police as we have to co-exist. However, the protesting students have violated the 100-metre rule of HC and become aggressive and violent. Flowerpots costing Rs 3 lakh have been destroyed,” the ASG alleged, urging the court to intervene. HC had on August 9, 2017 directed students not to stage any agitation within 100 metres of the administrative block.
Justice Rao said the interim order would be in force for the next three days from Saturday so that salaries can be disbursed. He clarified that as per earlier court orders the university can seek police assistance to maintain law and order in the campus, but noted that it “should not preclude” the students from peacefully protesting at the Sabarmati hostel lawns.
In its plea, JNU said the students have been protesting since February 10 on the issue of compulsory attendance. Since the administration has already earmarked a place for protests, students should sit-in at the Sabarmati hostel lawns, it argued.
Responding to the court proceedings, JNUSU president Geeta Kumari said that many claims made by the administration were false. “They claimed that there was a blockade today at the administrative block. This is wrong as no student was there. We only had a press conference in the afternoon and that is not against the HC order,” she added.
Kumari added that the functioning of the offices at the administrative block was not affected and “officials came and went of their own will.”
On the allegations that students had damaged flowerpots, Kumari said, “Anyone can come and see that the pots are in perfect shape and were set aside by the students. The administration has refused to release funds for cultural events claiming lack of funds, but bought expensive flowerpots.”
Agitators to continue with strike
A day after chaos at the JNU campus where students protested near the administrative block for 12 hours, the administration went to court on Friday against the students for ‘contempt of court’ proceedings. The students, however, called for a continuation of the strike in the campus. While the administration blamed students for threatening university rectors, students claimed that they never stopped anyone from leaving the building and only wanted to meet the vice-chancellor.
JNUSU said that the VC and his administrators have been spreading rumours. “We did not gherao the administrators or prevent any official from leaving the administrative block. We only gathered peacefully demanding that the VC meet students and address their concerns instead of ‘shooting’ arbitrary rules and disciplinary notices at them,” the JNUSU statement said. Students said the protest was called after the JNU VC had arbitrarily called off a scheduled meeting of the academic council — to be held on February 23.
These claims have been contested by the administration that said that the students are indulging in misinformation about the VC not meeting them.
“Every first Monday of the month, any student of JNU can meet the VC without an appointment…and a large number of students, including the JNUSU office-bearers, meet the VC on these days,” the statement from the registrar said. TNN