JNU row: HC seeks varsity reply over Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya rustication

Two students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), accused of sedition for a controversial event of February 9 in the varsity, today moved the Delhi High Court challenging their rustication.

Based on the findings of a high-level inquiry committee (HLEC), the University rusticated Umar Khalid for one semester and another student leader, Anirban Bhattacharya, till July 15.
Umar Khalid was slapped with a fine of Rs 20,000, while Anirban Bhattacharya has been barred from JNU campus for five years from July 23.

Acting on the pleas of Umar and Anirban Bhattacharya, Justice Manmohan issued notice to JNU seeking its response and recorded the statement made by the varsity’s lawyer that date of deposit of the fine by Umar shall be extended till May 30, the next date of hearing.

The judge refused to pass any other interim order, including staying of JNU’s decision of April 25 as was sought by the petitioners, saying he will have to inspect the records to see whether proper procedure was followed by the varsity for holding the inquiry.

“Have to see the records to ascertain whether fair procedure was followed. You are pleading ignorance of all facts, so I have to see the record,” Justice Manmohan said and directed the varsity to bring all the relevant records on the next date.

Advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for Umar, argued before the court that his client was in hiding from February 11 to February 21 as he feared for his life subsequent to the events of February 9 and that he was in jail from February 23 to March 18 after he had surrendered.

Sibal said that the inquiry by the HLEC was carried out during this period, behind his client’s back, and thereafter, when he was in prison, the varsity tried to serve a show cause notice on him on March 15.

The counsel for JNU told the court that notices were sent thrice to Umar’s known addresses, including that of his father, but he never appeared before the committee.