Congress student wing, NSUI’s national Secretary Lokesh Chugh urged the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to permit him to submit his PhD thesis before the retirement of his supervisor on April 30, as it heard his plea challenging his debarment from the Delhi University for allegedy organising a screening of the banned BBC documentary.
Appearing for Chugh, senior advocate Kapil Sibal apprised the bench of Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav that the varsity will later “appoint a supervisor of its own choice” if interim relief was not granted.
However, counsel for the university M. Rupal argued that no prejudice would be caused and an interference by court will send a “wrong message”.
The institution should ensure that after the retirement of the current supervisor, one of the advisors who had worked with the petitioner on the thesis would replace him and that the petitioner had fulfilled all requirements and was required to appear for the viva, the court was informed.
Attorney General R. Venkataramani also represented the university and urged Justice Kaurav to defer hearing in the matter as he was appearing in a constitution bench hearing before the Supreme Court.
Rupal said the petitioner’s thesis and the role of his supervisor was over and that if he succeeds in his case here, it would be processed as per procedure and there was no urgency in the matter. “A wrong message will go. They are alleging urgency without showing the rules. There is no impediment, ” he contended.
“Even if the supervisor retires, it will not come in the way. The department continues, ” added the lawyer.
After being informed that the petitioner’s thesis was “returned” by the authorities post submission on account of the debarment order, Justice Kaurav listed the matter for next hearing on April 27.
The DU had told the High Court on Monday that the action of students screening the banned BBC documentary without permission, and organising protests, despite imposition of prohibitory orders, amounts to “gross indiscipline”.
“We acted against the students who organised the screening of the documentary based on the newspaper reports which said that the two-part series has been banned in India, ” the university had submitted.
“Chugh was the mastermind behind the agitation and that video footage shows that he was actively involved in the screening of the documentary in the University campus, ” the DU counsel had added.
The intention to disrupt the academic functioning of the University has tarnished the image of the University, it was contended.
“The Committee after watching the videos found that the mastermind of the agitation was the petitioner. It was observed by the committee that around 20 students had gathered at 4 p.m. to showcase the BBC documentary and around 50 more students were there to watch the said documentary.”
The DU has prohibited Chugh, of the NSUI and a Ph.D. research scholar at the Department of Anthropology, from taking any university, college, or departmental exams.
Justice Kaurav had said that once the petitioner is before the court, his rights would be protected.
Chugh claims in his plea that he was not even there during the protest since he was attending a media interaction.
“Pertinently, the petitioner was giving a live interview at the time when the documentary was being screened inside the Faculty of Arts (Main Campus). Thereafter, police detained a few students for screening the allegedly banned BBC documentary and subsequently charged them for disturbance of peace in the area. Notably, the petitioner was neither detained nor charged with any form of incitement or violence or disturbance of peace by the police, ” he stated.
However, the DU served him with a show-cause notice on February 16 alleging that he had disrupted law and order at the university during the screening. On March 10, a memorandum debarring him was then issued.
In his plea, Chugh claims that the university’s order against him went against the principles of natural justice and that the disciplinary authorities failed to even inform him of the allegations and charges against him. Therefore, Chugh demanded that the memorandum and notice that claim he was complicit in a breach of law and order be set aside. He has asked for a stay of the memorandum in the interim.