KASARAGOD: The Central University of Kerala has issued a circular asking its faculty members not to give provocative or anti-national lectures.
The circular was issued on the insistence of the executive council -- the highest decision-making body of the university -- against the backdrop of a faculty member questioning the Covid vaccine policy of the Union government and also asking if the RSS-BJP was a proto-fascist organisation during his online class.
The circular asked faculty members and employees to "abstain from giving any type of provoking lectures or statements that are anti-national and will be against the interest of the nation". Strict disciplinary action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities in the future, said the circular issued with the approval of the vice-chancellor Prof H Venkateshwarlu.
When contacted, several faculty members expressed their displeasure and pointed out that the circular did not define what constituted anti-national statements and lectures.
To be sure, the circular is directly linked to the controversial online class given by assistant professor Gilbert Sebastian on April 19, where he questioned if the RSS-BJP was a proto-fascist organisation. In the same class for the first semester MA students, he criticised the Union government's policy of exporting covid vaccines without meeting the demands of the country.
A three-member enquiry committee concluded that Dr Sebastian of the Department of International Relations and Politics exceeded his brief in the class and violated the service rule which prohibits criticising the government.
Based on the report, the faculty member was suspended on May 17. The vice-chancellor, however, revoked his suspension on June 10 after he "regretted" that his views in class "have been misconstrued by others and brought unnecessary and unfavourable attention to the university".
However, the Executive Council expressed concern over the vice-chancellor's "unilateral decision" to withdraw the suspension.
The Executive Council in its 51st meeting said that Dr Sebastian's statements in class were "anti-national". It "authorised the vice-chancellor to issue a circular that in future, faculty members or employees should abstain from giving such provoking lectures or statements that in turn will affect the interest of the nation''.
Sources in the university said that the three-member enquiry committee did not conclude that Dr Sebastain's lecture was anti-national nor did it use the term in its report. Dr Gilbert had also written to the vice-chancellor to expunge the "factually incorrect" statements from the minutes of the Executive Council's meeting.