The Kerala High Court, while hearing a contempt of court case, has ruled that politics has no place in campuses of educational institutes and students can be expelled if they are found indulging in such activities.
The court made the observations while hearing a contempt of court case which was filed by the Principal of MES College, Malappuram against Debashish Kumar Behra, the secretary of the college’s Students Federation of India (SFI) wing, a radical leftist organisation found on some campuses.
As per the court, political activities like dharna, hunger strikes, satyagraha, etc. have no place in a constitutional democracy, let alone in educational institutions. It further observed that anyone indulging in such activities at educational institutions would make himself/herself liable for expulsion.
The court made more scathing observations:
Educational institutions are meant for imparting education and not politics. By their political ambition, the political parties cannot hold to ransom the educational institution or the right of the civilised students to receive education.
The court also looked at photographs of students holding a dharna inside the campus and opined that students council, academic council, and courts are available for students to put forth their grievances. It also made a scathing remark that, people resorting to dharna or hunger strike shows that they are aware about the illegitimacy of their demands. Thus they use coercive methods to achieve their objectives which otherwise could not have been achieved legally.
Such an observation by a nation’s High Court might be a landmark precedent when it comes to student politics in India.
Even though such on-campus politics has some on paper benefits like, imbibing team spirit and leadership qualities among students, in reality the whole students politics scenario has become synonymous with various negatives in recent years.
There have been various cases of violence in educational campuses around the nation. It was reported in February that a clash had broken out between leftist student organisation All India Students Association (AISA) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) outside Ramjas College in Delhi University. This fight had caused injuries to professors and media persons, though media tried to hid the violence by the leftists.
West Bengal too has become notorious in this regard. To name a few instances, in 2016, 16 students and 2 policemen were injured in north-Dinajpur after a fight broke out between student wings of CPI(M) and TMC. In 2015 there were reports that a member of Congress’ student wing was beaten to death, by alleged Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) when a clash broke out between the two organisations in a West Midnapore college.
Uttar Pradesh has also seen a share of its student violence after there were reports in 2014 about a big brawl erupting in Digambar Jain college at Bagpat during a student union election.
Kerala, whose High Court has now made the observations, too has seen violence in the form of SFI forcibly preventing the entry of other student federations in colleges across the state.
Apart from violence, some educational institutes have also become hotbed for anti-national activities under the garb of student politics. The most high profile instance was the 2016 JNU protests where leftist student organisations had reportedly chanted anti-India slogans while protesting the death penalty meted out to terrorist Afzal Guru.