The Telangana High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the Osmania University’s decision to refuse permission for an event that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was slated to attend on campus, The News Minute reported.
Gandhi was scheduled to visit the Hyderabad campus on May 7 to meet students. However, the university authorities refused permission for the visit, saying that no political activity was allowed on the campus.
The university cited a resolution from 2017 that stated that non-academic activities, including political ones, would not be allowed there.
On April 29, K Manavatha Roy, a research scholar at Osmania University’s Arts College, and three other students filed a petition in the Telangana High Court seeking a directive to authorities to allow the event.
Roy, along with five other students, also wrote to the university registrar seeking permission for Gandhi’s visit.
The petitioners had submitted that Gandhi’s event had no “political motives” and was for the purpose of “nation building” and to meet the university students, as well as unemployed youth, according to The News Minute.
On Wednesday, the Telangana High Court held that there might be “political overtones” to the interaction and since the university has previously banned political events, this cannot be allowed either.
The court observed that the grievances of students or unemployment do not come under the ambit of academic deliberations, and there is an “absence of material to substantiate that the meeting is for some academic related activities”.
The court, however, held that previous instances of political events being allowed on campus cannot be grounds to violate university rules.
“Merely because the respondents are stated to have permitted other activities, this court cannot permit the proposed meeting in violation of its executive council resolution,” the court said, according to The New Indian Express. “It is not for this court to interfere with the decision of the vice chancellor unless the same is tainted with mala fides occasions or contrary to the provisions of law.”
It also directed the university to not permit any political and non-academic activities in the future.
Protests had erupted at the Osmania University in Hyderabad after the administration refused to grant permission for Gandhi’s event. Congress leaders said that they had sought permission on April 23, and had said that the event would be a non-political one.
G Vinod Kumar, the dean of the Postgraduate College of Law at the university, had expressed his support for the Congress leader’s visit. He had said that leaders from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) had visited the campus earlier, so preventing a Congress leader’s visit was wrong.
On the other hand, activists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi Vidyarthi Vibhagam took part in demonstrations supporting the university’s decision.