Supreme Court censures on-campus student stir

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Wednesday disapproved of protests by students on college campuses scornfully wondering if the protesters think they were “Mahatama Gandhi” practising his act of resistance “satyagraha”.

A vacation bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Deepak Verma made the disparaging remarks against on-campus agitation by students while dismissing a lawsuit by a girl student, challenging her rustication from Kerala-based St George College.

Indulekha Joseph was suspended from the college for organising protest demonstration against the institute management.

“What kind of a student are you? You are raising slogans, distributing pamphlets, holding press conferences, displaying placards. What do you think you are doing, a satyagraha,” remarked Justice Katju.

“Do you think you are Mahatama Gandhi,” Justice Katju asked.

“You are behaving like a neta (leader), not like a student. This type of netagiri is indiscipline.”

The bench, however, directed the college authorities to issue Joseph a transfer certificate without adversely reflecting on her conduct in the college.

The bench dismissed Joseph’s lawsuit, ignoring the apologies tendered by her counsel Krishnan Venugopal. “Apologies cannot be accepted. You cannot stab a person and say sorry.”

Admitting her petition in November 2008, the apex court allowed her to appear for her graduation examination but barred her from attending classes.

She was expelled from the college in February 2007.

The daughter of a lecturer of the college, Joseph staged protests after her father was transferred from the college.

The Kottayam-based Mahathma Gandhi University, to which the college is affiliated, in its reply to the girl’s lawsuit said Joseph had been nurturing enmity against the college and its management.

The university said the girl conducted a sit-in in front of the principal’s office. She distributed leaflets against the college and held a press conference making unfounded allegations.

According to the university, Joseph threatened college authorities saying: “I dedicate my life to fight against the degenerated functioning. I had come to know that in my college different sorts of corrupt practices are rampant.”

“I would stage a satyagraha Oct 26, 2006 at the gate of the college to attract attention of the public. I would conduct a press conference to invite the attention of the media,” she was quoted as having said.

The university said the girl had a “family trait” to resort to litigation at the drop of a hat.

At the age of 4, her parents had made her perform a “protest dance” in front of the Mandi House Doordarshan office in New Delhi “to protest their inability in telecasting her performance”.


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