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Delhi HC sets aside penalty imposed on Kanhaiya Kumar by JNU

The Rs 10,000 fine was imposed on Kanhaiya Kumar by the appellate authority in connection with the incident in which slogans were allegedly raised at the event relating to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2018 08:40 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kanhaiya Kumar,Jawaharlal Nehru University,anti-India slogans
A file photo of Delhi high court in New Delhi.(HT Photo)

The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside a Jawaharlal University (JNU) committee’s order imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on former students’ union Kanhaiya Kumar for addressing and participating in an event held at the university campus on February 9, 2016.

On July 4, a university committee had found Kumar guilty of taking part in the rally, in which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, and imposed the fine.

Justice Siddharth Mridul noted that the order passed by JNU was ‘illegal, irrational and suffered from procedural impropriety’. The court also said that the order was unsustainable on various grounds and sent the matter back to the appellate authority(JNU), which would start the proceedings afresh.

“The order is prima facie unsustainable on numerous accounts,” the court said.

Following the court’s direction, the counsel for JNU, said they would withdraw the order and reconsider it. The court also said that even though the fine imposed on Kumar was only R 10,000, the action would have consequences on his reputation.

The court also asked JNU to conduct fresh proceedings against Kumar.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Kumar, informed the court that her client was not even an organizer of the event. She said that the fine hence was a violation of “principles of natural justice.”

The advocate said that a district magistrate probe on the events that evening had given a clean chit to Kumar and made it clear that he had not raised any anti-national slogans. She said that the fine was imposed with“malafide intent” to stop Kumar from submitting his thesis.

The court then told the JNU counsel, “This is an inquiry by the district magistrate. He has not found him guilty of raising slogans. As far as this report is concerned, it completely dismantles your case.”

The JNU counsel then clarified that Kumar was fined only for participating and addressing the crowd during the event, not for raising anti-national slogans. The JNU counsel also said that Kumar had not attended the inquiry proceedings despite being summoned multiple times to explain his side.

The court then said that the university’s order is incomplete and does not mention anything about the last opportunity being granted to Kumar. Following this, JNU counsel accepted that there were several lacunas in the order and they intend to withdraw it.

On July 17, Kumar had moved Delhi High Court challenging a Rs 10,000 fine imposed on him for participating and addressing a event held at the varsity in 2016 against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Besides, Kumar, the high-level committee of the varsity, had rusticated former JNU student Umar Khalid in connection to the same event and fined 13 other students.

Khalid’s plea, along with those of the other students who have been fined, will be heard on Tuesday. The court has restrained the university from taking any “coercive action” against them until Tuesday.

The Delhi police is also probing a sedition case against Kumar, Khalid and other student leaders. Police are yet to file a chargesheet in the matter, more than two years after filing an FIR that accused the student leaders of organising a rally and making anti-national speeches. Kumar and Khalid, who were booked under sedition charges, have denied the allegations and said police have not filed a chargesheet because they have no evidence against them.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 18:40 IST