Sunday, 1 May 2016

HC quashes BHU order to sack Magsaysay winne

LUCKNOW: The Allahabad high court on Friday quashed Banaras Hindu University's (BHU) decision to prematurely terminate the service contract of Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey as a visiting faculty to the department of chemical engineering, IIT.
Noting that the professor was not given a chance to reply, the the bench of justices VK Shukla and Mahesh chandra Tripathi said charges levelled against him were "stigmatic and punitive" and freedom of expression was violated in BHU's decision. "Here, in pith and substance, petitioner has been attributed with misconduct and without holding enquiry by violating the principle of natural justice with impunity impugned order has been passed that clearly casts stigma on the character of petitioner and is punitive in nature," the bench of Justice VK Shukla and Justice Mahesh chandra Tripathi said.

The decision to terminate Pandey's services was taken in BHU's board of governance meeting on December 21, 2015, and the order was issued on January 6, 2016.

The letter terminating his three-year contract did not mention any reason. However, minutes of the IIT-BHU BoG meeting revealed that the decision was taken because members felt that Pandey's classroom teaching was against national interest, pro-Naxal and may disturb communal harmony and encourage students to take law into their hands. The action was taken on the complaint of an MA political science student who was not related to any course Pandey the IIT.Pandey was hired by the IIT-BHU in August 2013 for a period of three years to teach subjects like control systems, process instrumentation and human values.

The action was taken on the complaint of an MA political science student who was not related to any course Pandey taught in the IIT.

Pandey was hired by the IIT-BHU in August 2013 for a period of three years to teach subjects like control systems, process instrumentation and human values. He introduced a subject 'development studies' after getting it duly approved as a humanities option at BTech III. Pandey challenged the BHU order in the HC on February 5, 2016. He pleaded that the IIT-BHU BoG resolution has cast stigma and serious allegation of 'anti-national' on him, that too without providing him any opportunity to respond or explain.

The BHU lawyers said that the service of the petitioner was terminated as per the rules and regulations. They also said that Pandey was not fit a person to be associated with the university. The BHU counter-affidavit filed in reply to the petition said that Pandey organised group discussions on the topic like 'Killing of Mohd Akhlaq justified', 'beef eating', 'beef ban', etc. It also said that the decision was taken to maintain peaceful atmosphere on the campus as the petitioner was polluting the academic atmosphere.

However, court rejected these arguments while quoting Voltaire who famously said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it". The bench also questioned the motives of the IIT-BHU administration for dismissing Pandey without giving him an adequate hearing. "In the present 

case, the order in question has to be accepted as stigmatic/punitive one for the simple reason that here petitioner has been not only accused of committing cyber crime but has also been accused of imparting teaching contrary to national interest," the order said.

The court also said that though the petitioner engagement was on contractual basis, it is clearly reflected that the decision was taken because of differences of ideologies. Heavy words such as commission of cyber crime and acting against national interest have been loosely used by the BHU administration while taking the decision, it said. The court said that the academic administrators should be politically neutral, at the point of time of dealing with academic/administrative matters of the University.



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