Rahul Gandhi's campus tryst: TS HC dismisses petition challenging OU's decision of not allowing `political event'

The petition was filed by Ph.D. scholar K Manavatha Roy and three others. After hearing the arguments, Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy eventually dismissed the petition.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  5 May 2022 3:13 AM GMT
Rahul Gandhis campus tryst: TS HC dismisses petition challenging OUs decision of not allowing `political event

Hyderabad: Telangana High Court on Wednesday dismissed a writ petition challenging Osmania University Registrar's decision of not allowing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to hold a face-to-face interaction with the students at Tagore Auditorium on May 7.

The petition was filed by Ph.D. scholar K Manavatha Roy and three others. After hearing the arguments, Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy eventually dismissed the petition.

The court made it clear that the university campus cannot be used as a political platform. The petitioners stated that certain political events were conducted on the campus, including a mock assembly by the BJP, the Chief Minister's birthday celebrations, and the birthday celebrations of George Reddy. The court said these cannot be a ground to permit political events in violation of a resolution passed by the Executive Council of the University.

"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," the court said.

The petitioners' counsel Karunakar Reddy contended that the proposed face­to-face interaction program of the students with Gandhi would not affect any other programs to be held on the OU campus on Saturday. Since the program's venue was the Tagore auditorium, the likelihood of any disturbances was ruled out, he argued.

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 centers 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.

Osmania University standing counsel Ch. Jagannatha Rao told the court that the university's executive council passed a resolution in 2019 not to permit any political meetings thereafter. Rao also said the possibility of the law and order problems arising due to the meeting cannot be ruled out as another rival union was opposing the meeting. Moreover, elections to unions of teaching and non-teaching staff were being held from Saturday. From May 10, the university is conducting exams for post­graduate courses. Permitting the meeting of a political leader under this backdrop would hamper the smooth conduct of the exams and elections, the OU standing counsel 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 university shall also ensure that students maintain distance from politics 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 on university campus hereinafter, the court said.

The petitioners had contended that to declare the action of the VC, OU illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory, unilateral, unjust, and unconstitutional and consequently quash the order and to grant permission to accord meeting.

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