Kanhaiya questions JNU panel’s power to hold him guilty

New Delhi: Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, involved in a sedition row, today questioned the power of a university panel to determine his guilt of alleged indiscipline in connection with the February 2016 event in which anti-India slogans were said to have been raised.

“I (Kanhaiya) am questioning the legitimacy of the entire process of issuing me the show cause notice. The High Level Enquiry Committee’s (HLEC) ambit was only to recommend the initiation of charges, if any, but it exceeded and recommended punishment without hearing,” the lawyer appearing for Kanhaiya, who was arrested in connection with the event, argued before Justice V K Rao in the Delhi High Court.

The varsity has taken action against several students, including Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, in connection with the event held in the JNU campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

Besides Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban were also arrested by the police in the sedition case. They were granted bail later.

During the arguments, Kanhaiya’s counsel submitted before the court that he had nothing to do with the event.

The counsel said Kanhaiya had been in jail since February 12, 2016 in connection with the case and was released on March 3. “They never served me any notice even when I was in jail,” his counsel submitted.

Earlier, other students also facing action had questioned the HLEC’s power saying it was not set up to find someone guilty and punish them.

“It was set up to enquire into the incident and recommend what action was to be taken,” Umar’s counsel had argued.

The arguments

on appeals filed by 21 students against the JNU’s order holding them guilty of indiscipline in connection with the event would continue tomorrow.

The high court, in an interim order, had put on hold the varsity’s decision against these students.

The students have contended that by not giving them due opportunity to defend themselves against the charge of indiscipline, the principles of natural justice have been violated.

They have also challenged their punishment which ranges from rustication for a few semesters to withdrawal of hostel facilities.

The appellate authority of the university had rusticated Umar from JNU till December 2016, while Anirban was asked to be out of the varsity for five years.