Jawaharlal Nehru University has asked the Delhi High Court to issue an order restraining its students from staging demonstrations within a 100-metre radius of the administrative block, PTI reported on Sunday. On March 17, the court had reversed its order prohibiting students from staging protests in the area known as “Freedom Square”, Hindustan Times had reported.
In its new order, the court had said the students could hold demonstrations as long as they were peaceful and the noise levels were kept to a minimum. It also prohibited students from blocking access to the administrative facility. A hearing of the university’s plea has been scheduled for April 12.
Accusing student protestors of having violated this order, JNU’s counsel Monika Arora said those responsible should face action for breaching the rules. Arora sought the “immediate indulgence of the court” in the matter, saying the students had staged a protest on March 23, when they burnt an effigy of the vice chancellor outside the administrative block and blocked the entry and exit of university officials.
The varsity’s administration requested Justice Sanjeev Sachdev, who had issued the earlier order, to issue a directive against protests. Arora said the varsity should be provided with adequate police protection when required and that “no dharna/demonstration/street plays etc be allowed with or without noise-making instruments within 100 metres of the administrative block” of the JNU.
The court had earlier recommended a negotiation between the varsity’s administration and the Jawaharlal University Students Union President, PTI reported. It had also asked the administration to introspect about why students were protesting so frequently, Hindustan Times reported. JNU had said 92 protests had disrupted its functioning during the past nine months.
On March 25, commenting on the recent incidents of alleged suppression at universities, Vice President Hamid Ansari had said Indian universities need to be defended as free spaces. Ansari said the rights to “dissent and agitation” are ingrained in the fundamental rights under our Constitution. “Except in cases of illegal conduct or violence, a university should never seek to silence or influence faculty members or students to adopt or renounce any particular position.”