Court lifts ban, JNU students can now protest at Freedom square
‘Freedom Square’, a popular protest site at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), will be open again for students with the Delhi high court on Friday lifting its earlier order restraining students from protesting within 100 metres of the admin block.
“What would be the purpose of the protest if it was not visible and was held at some remote corner,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said as he allowed students to protest in the front garden and pavement of the administrative block with the conditions that the exit and entry routes to the building not be blocked and decibel levels are kept low.
While modifying its March 9 order, the court said it was looking to protect bonafide students of JNU and stressed that no outside organisation or association be allowed to dictate how the varsity or its students should function.
The court said a large number of student protests at varsity only indicates that “there is something wrong somewhere”. It made the observation after JNU said in the past nine months there have been 92 protests in the campus and these were disrupting the functioning of the varsity.
During the hearing, the court asked whether the JNU has ever introspected as to why so many protests, almost 10 every month, were being held there only and not in any other university.
“Why so many protests are happening there only and not in other universities? There is something wrong somewhere. We have to look at the root cause. All the reasons for the protests may not be frivolous,” it said.
The court also said, “Who would want to agitate if other means are available” and asked the JNU to evolve a mechanism to differentiate between genuine and frivolous grievances of the students and to resolve these by way of dialogue.
It said, “Educational environment should revive in the JNU, but it is not happening.”
To ensure a proper dialogue is held and the varsity officials are not swamped by large numbers of students showing up for a meeting, the court asked the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) to nominate three-four persons who would represent them.
The court asked JNUSU president Mohit Pandey, who was present in court, to call a joint meeting of all student associations in the JNU to select the persons who would be part of the dialogue with the varsity officials.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 30.