HYDERABAD: Justice B Vijaysen Reddy of Telangana High Court on Wednesday dismissed a writ petition filed by Ph.D scholar K Manavatha Roy and three other students, seeking direction to Osmania University, represented by its Vice-Chancellor and Registrar, to give permission to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to hold a face-to-face interaction with the varsity students at Tagore Auditorium within OU campus on May 7.
The court made it clear that the university campus cannot be used as a political platform. Though the petitioners have stated that earlier certain political events were conducted on the campus, including a mock assembly by BJP, Chief Minister’s birthday celebrations and birthday celebrations of George Reddy, the same cannot be a ground to permit political events in violation of resolution passed by the Executive Council of the University, it said.
Varsity should frame rules to ban political events: HC
“Article 14 guarantees positive equality and not negative equality. Merely because the respondents are stated to have permitted other activities, this court cannot permit the proposed meeting in violation of its executive council resolution,” it added. The court opined that the Registrar is the best person to decide what activities are proper or not, to be held within the campus.
“It is not for this court to interfere with the decision of the Vice-Chancellor unless the same is tainted with mala fides occasions or contrary to the provisions of law. The universities have to be exclusively designated as centres for imparting knowledge, training etc., and outsiders should not be permitted to enter the university. Any lapse on the part of university like permitting birthday celebrations of politicians, student’s leader would give the impression of bias and selective discrimination,” the court said.
The court also said that the university shall explore the possibilities of framing detailed and clear guidelines for banning any meetings, political activities/events on the campus in the future, which in the considered opinion of the court are very much necessary for safeguarding and promoting the interests of the student community at large.
The universities shall also ensure that students maintain distance from politics during the time when they pursue their education as they need to concentrate on career building. This court hopes that similar guidelines/ regulations are framed by other universities to ensure that political events are not conducted in university campus hereinafter, the court said.
The petitioners contended that to declare the action of the VC, OU in issuing the impugned order refusing to accord permission for conducting face-to-face interaction with the students and the unemployed in Tagore Auditorium with Rahul Gandhi on irrelevant grounds, as being illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory, unilateral, unjust and unconstitutional and consequently quash the order and to grant permission to accord meeting. Counsel for Osmania University submitted that the first petitioner is a spokesperson of the Indian National Congress and a member of the National Students Union of India (NSUI).
The writ petition is not maintainable as the resolution of the Executive Council of the University is not challenged. There is a hidden agenda in conducting the so-called face-to-face interactive session with Rahul Gandhi. No details of the number of youth who would participate are given. If permission is granted, there is every scope for mass gathering and eventually, it may lead to a breakdown of law and order.
The elections which are being held on the campus on May 7, are internal elections and no outsiders are permitted. A prior notification was issued on April 23, announcing elections to be held on the said date. There are no merits in the writ petition and the same is liable to be dismissed. After hearing the contentions, the court dismissed the writ petition.