KOCHI: In a landmark order, that may sound the death knell for campus politics in Kerala, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court held that educational institutions are meant for imparting education and not politics. Political activities like dharna, hunger strike and other similar practices have no place in academic institutions, it held.
"Anyone indulging in political activities in educational institutions would make himself/herself liable for rustication. Educational institutions are not for politics. The political parties cannot hold to ransom the educational institutions or the right of the civilized students to receive education," the court said.
It issued the order on a contempt of court petition filed by MES College, Ponnani in Malappuram. The college was privy to strikes, dharna and clashes involving student outfits of various political parties, forcing a shut down in August.
The SFI activists, the students' wing of CPM, claimed that students were on dharna and hunger strike outside the college in August.
Counsel for MES college Ponnani produced photographs of a shed erected on a footpath outside the campus that has the banner of a political party as well as huge loudspeakers. The court deemed it an unauthorised encroachment into public property and directed the police to remove it at once. "The right of a law-abiding citizen to traverse along the footpath or on the roads cannot be obstructed by any political parties whatever the cause it may have," it said.
The court also examined the photographs which show students taking part in a dharna inside the college campus. "If the students have a legitimate grievance, avenues for ventilating them are legally available. There is students council, academic council and there are courts including High Court where appropriate grievance can be raised. Dharnas have no place which would only vitiate the academic atmosphere. The court cannot countenance such a thing," the order stated.
The court said that if any student is found taking part in dharna, strike or any activity that disrupts academic activities of any college, the principal or the authorities of that college will have the right to rusticate them. "If called upon by the college authorities, the police would be under an obligation to assist the authorities in maintaining peace and orderly conduct of academic in the college premises," the court held.
The court directed that all pickets, tents, stalls, set up in and around the MES College campus or in its immediate vicinity for facilitating dharna and hunger strikes be removed by the police and the area be maintained free dharnas, hunger strike or any such obstructions.
The court adviced the SFI leader, who appeared before it, to concentrate on his studies instead of engaging in campus politics. If he wants to take part in political activities, he may do so outside the college, the court said.
The court adjourned the case to Monday and directed the police to file a report on compliance with its directions.