The Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has decided to attend St. Stephens’ dismissal service.
The students of the college had on Thursday requested the CM not to attend the function as Devansh Mehta — the co-editor and founder of the Stephen’s Weekly-- had been suspended.
The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed Mehta’s suspension, allowing him to attend the college function. He will, however, not be given the Rai Sahab Banarasi Das Memorial Prize on Saturday as there is a stay on conferring the prize as well. Tara Kesvan, Mehta’s classmate who was offered the prize instead of him, turned it down.
Devansh, was suspended on Tuesday by Thampu for speaking to the media about the ban on the e-zine, which was imposed last month. Devansh decided to move the high court as he saw the suspension as an infringement of his right to freedom of expression.
Devansh,21, a student of Philosophy (Hons) has now been accepted at the Columbia School of Journalism, New York.
Earlier in the day, a group of 30 students, alumni and teachers staged a protest outside the college. Students burnt an effigy of college principal Valson Thampu and demanded Mehta’s suspension to be revoked.
Members of students body NSUI also joined hands with protesters and shouted slogans against the principal.
For students, the HC order came as a symbolic victory. Samira Bose, student of History (Hons) at the college told HT: “The students are celebrating the order. We had faith in the judicial system and the Delhi High Court has not failed that trust.”
Sunil Matthew, the lawyer for Mehta who fought the case pro-bono, said, “This was a clear case where Devansh had been a victim of vindictive and malicious conspiracy. Nowhere, in the code of conduct of Delhi University or St. Stpehen’s does it say that speaking to the media is an act of indiscipline that invites punishment. The courts have taken cognizance of the matter and hence decided to give Devansh interim relief.”
Devansh’s parents, who had cancelled their tickets to attend the graduation ceremony, were thrilled by the verdict.
“We always knew our son was innocent. We are very happy that the court has also seen it and stood for justice.” They are now getting ready to attend their son’s passing out ceremony to be held on the 18th.
Thampu, meanwhile, said he will honour the court’s decision.
“I may have a different opinion but I gladly abide by the order of law. But at the same time I maintain that I have acted according to the best of my understanding and best of my intentions for the Institution,” he said.
Mehta, who reached the college at around 5 pm, said: “There is still a long way to go before justice is delivered.”
He said, “I am very happy that I get to attend the graduation ceremony and receive my passing out certificate from Kejriwal. His life has inspired me to stand for the truth.”
“I believe one should punish the sin and not the sinner. I have great respect for the principal and for the work he has done,” Mehta said.