Kerala varsity revokes suspension of teacher who called RSS-BJP 'proto-fascist', issues warning

The university withdrew the suspension after he wrote to the vice-chancellor expressing "regret" for the embarrassment, if any, caused to the university after his online session was leaked

Published: 10th June 2021 07:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2021 07:46 PM   |  A+A-

Gilbert Sebastian

Express News Service

KASARAGOD: The Central University of Kerala on Thursday revoked the suspension of assistant professor Gilbert Sebastian who referred to the RSS and BJP as proto-fascist organisations and criticised the Union government's vaccine policy.

The university withdrew the suspension after he wrote to vice-chancellor Prof H Venkateshwarlu expressing "regret" for the embarrassment, if any, caused to the university after his online session was leaked into the public realm.

When contacted, the vice-chancellor said: "The issue was settled through the internal mechanisms of the university."

Sebastian, an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations and Politics, was suspended on May 17 for criticising the government, under Rule 9 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules (CCS Rules).

The university took the action after the ABVP -- the student wing of the RSS -- filed a complaint with the vice-chancellor. A Vinod Karuvarakundu, a member of the National Monitoring Committee on Education (SCs, STs, Persons with Special Needs and Minority Education) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, also wrote a complaint to the vice-chancellor demanding action against the assistant professor.

Gilbert made the observations on the RSS-BJP and the Union government's vaccine policies during an online class on 'Fascism and Nazism' on April 19. The complaint of Karuvarakundu, a former state president of the ABVP, was filed the same day.

The university's action was roundly condemned by lawmakers such as Shashi Tharoor, Rajmohan Unnithan of the Congress and V Sivadasan of the CPM. C H Kunhambu, the legislator from Udma where the university sits, also wrote to the Minister for Human Resource Development seeking the revocation of the suspension. They argued that the action against the teacher amounted to infringing on academic freedom. Almost all student organisations, except for the ABVP, put out statements condemning the action against the teacher.

The university, however, stood by its stance that Sebastian violated the CCS rules. The order to withdraw the suspension was accompanied by a "strongly worded warning letter", said an official of the university.

The letter asked the assistant professor to "not repeat such digressed utterances, which may cause disharmony in the classroom" and said "major penalty would be imposed under CCS Rules if such violation is repeated".


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