HC sets aside DU order debarring PhD scholar over screening of BBC documentary

April 28, 2023 01:22 am | Updated 01:22 am IST - New Delhi

Police personnel detaining students for attempting to screen the BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, at Faculty of the Arts, Delhi University.

Police personnel detaining students for attempting to screen the BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, at Faculty of the Arts, Delhi University. | Photo Credit: File photo

The High Court on Thursday set aside a Delhi University order debarring a PhD scholar and student leader from appearing for examinations for a year for his alleged involvement in the on-campus screening of BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said DU’s administrative authority did not offer Lokesh Chugh, who is also the national secretary of the Congress’s National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), an opportunity to be heard before passing its decision to debar him.

Mr. Chugh had moved the court earlier this month challenging the university’s decision to debar him for a year.

“The court is unable to sustain the impugned order dated March 10, 2023. Impugned order is set aside. The admission of the petitioner is restored. Necessary consequences will follow,” the HC said.

“The court finds that the impugned order has been passed without offering an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner or considering his explanation,” the judge noted. The HC also clarified that since the debarment order was being set aside for non-adherence to the principle of natural justice, the university is free to take action against the petitioner in accordance with the procedure.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani, representing the university, claimed Mr. Chugh has approached the High Court with “unclean hands” and has made a “completely false” statement that he was not present at the time of the screening.

The Attorney General said a committee was constituted to look into the incident and Mr. Chugh, who was served a show-cause notice, was given an opportunity to explain his conduct.

The court said the committee’s report records its findings but “does not deal with the explanation, if any, given by the petitioner [Mr. Chugh]” and the minutes of the meeting clearly indicate the petitioner’s presence but the “clarification given by him has not been mentioned or dealt with”.

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