THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala High Court on Wednesday banned strikes, gherao, marches, demonstrations and protests that adversely affect “academic atmosphere” in educational campuses.
The high court directive came after hearing about 20 petitions that were filed by a cross section of college managements in Kerala over a period of three years.
The petitioners had pointed out the vitiating atmosphere in the campuses and disruption of academic activities due to frequent student agitations.
The high court while acknowledging the problems raised by the college managements, said in its verdict, “Learning is the fundamental right of students. Campuses are places for creating dialogues and discussions. They should not become venues of protests.”
“Education and politics should not go together. Strikes and satyagrahas should not be allowed. Those who organise strikes should be expelled,” the bench headed by Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad said after considering a petition filed by MES College in Ponnani.
The high court decision to ban campus politics has been in for wide criticism from students organisations cutting across ideological lines.
The CPM-led Student Federation of India which has a strong presence in Kerala campuses, said the court verdict against the rights guaranteed to citizens under the constitution.
In a joint statement, SFI state president and secretary V.A. Vineesh and K. M. Sachin Dev said, “The right to dissent forms the basis of Indian democracy and the court order is against the right of freedom of speech and expression granted by Article 19(A) and the right to assemble peacefully and without arms granted by Article 19(B) of Constitution.
The Congress-led KSU opposed the court verdict. KSU state president K.M. Abhijith said the government should challenge the high court verdict as it curbs the rights of students.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said though violence needs to be curbed in campuses, it does not mean that organisational activities and freedom to function should also be banned.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said similar judgments had been passed by the courts in the past to curb activities of student organisations.
He hoped the government will look into the issue and take steps to appeal against the verdict.
It may be recalled that the high court had issued an interim order in 2017 banning politics and protests in college campuses.