The Rajasthan high court stayed the suspension of Rajshree Ranawat, an assistant professor at Jai Narain Vyas University (JNVU), Jodhpur, over holding a seminar in which a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor allegedly made controversial remarks on Kashmir and the army that triggered ABVP protests.
The Jodhpur bench of the HC issued notices to the university administration on Monday, seeking reply before the next of hearing on April 7.
Ranawat organised the seminar -- titled “History Reconstructed through Literature: Nation, Identity, Culture” – on the JNVU campus on February 1 and 2, to which professor Nivedita Menon of JNU, New Delhi, was invited.
The ABVP, a students’ organisation associated with the RSS, shut down the university protesting against Menon’s alleged statements. She was accused of “lowering the dignity of the Indian army and Bharat Mata.”
JNVU vice chancellor RP Singh set up a committee to look into the allegations. On February 16, the university syndicate suspended Ranawat for “disobeying orders and not appearing before the fact-finding committee constituted by the vice chancellor.” The syndicate had also formed a committee to examine whether the services of Ranawat should be terminated.
The assistant professor moved the high court against the orders, seeking that her suspension be quashed and the committees formed and show-cause notices issued by the syndicate and the university administration be declared null and void.
“The single-judge bench of Justice Dinesh Mehta expressed surprise that the university had suspended a teacher only because a particular person had been invited to the seminar,” said Shivendra Singh Rathore, the lawyer of Ranawat. “The bench issued notices to the vice chancellor, the registrar and the University itself.”
Lauding the HC decision, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a press note, said it would support Ranawat in her struggle for justice and intensify its fight for academic freedom in unviersities and educational institutions.