The Delhi high court on Tuesday refused to stay the rustication order against JNU students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, over a controversial event held on the university campus earlier this year.
Justice Manmohan said he would have to first hear the response of the Jawaharlal Nehru University before passing any order on the duos’ plea challenging their rustication. It asked JNU to file its response along with all relevant documents, including the inquiry report.
“Have to see the records to ascertain whether fair procedure was followed. You are pleading ignorance of all facts, so I have to see the record,” Justice Manmohan said.
On the findings of a high-level inquiry committee (HLEC), the university on April 25 rusticated Khalid and Bhattacharya for one semester. Umar was slapped with a fine of `20,000, while the university barred Bhattacharya from the premises for five years starting July 25, 10 days after his rustication period ends.
Khalid and Bhattacharya are out on bail after being arrested on sedition charges following the February 9 event commemorating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, where “anti-national” slogans were allegedly chanted.
Justice Manmohan also recorded the statement made by the varsity’s lawyer that the deadline to deposit `20,000 fine for Umar will be extended till May 30, the next date of hearing.
Advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for Umar, argued before the court that his client was in hiding from February 11 to February 21 as he feared for his life subsequent to the events of February 9 and that he was in jail from February 23 to March 18 after he had surrendered.
Sibal said the inquiry by the HLEC was carried out during this period.
The JNU’s counsel, however, told the court that notices were sent thrice to Umar’s known addresses, including that of his father, but he never appeared before the committee. Khalid refused to accept the notices, the counsel added.
The court also refused Anirban’s counsel plea for an interim relief saying the student was rusticated with immediate effect till July 15 and only has a small window of a week thereafter to submit his thesis, so he would be unable to consult his professors till July 15.