JNU seeking legal opinion over punishment to students over Afzal Guru event

The students, who had refused to accept the findings of the JNU probe panel, had sent “token” replies to saying they cannot respond to “undefined” charges


A file photo of 
Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and Anirban Bhattacharya, who are believed to have been recommended rustication of for their alleged role in the event by the JNU probe panel. Photo: PTI
A file photo of Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and Anirban Bhattacharya, who are believed to have been recommended rustication of for their alleged role in the event by the JNU probe panel. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: JNU is believed to be seeking legal opinion over punishment to a few students in connection with an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

According to sources, the chief proctor’s office is seeking legal opinion on the quantum of punishment to the students in connection with the controversial 9 February event. If the authorities decide to press ahead with penal action against the students, it is likely to kick off a fresh round of protests.

While the university panel probing the issue had submitted its report on 11 March, the varsity is yet to take a final call on the issue.

“It is a sensitive issue and the university doesn’t intend to be unfair to anybody. Keeping the discipline norms in mind the quantum of punishment will be decided but it has to be made sure first that the penalty should be legally justified,” sources said.

After a high-level committee of the university found them “guilty” of “violating university norms and discipline rules”, show-cause notices were issued to 21 students on 14 March, asking them to explain why disciplinary action should not be initiated against them.

The students had earlier refused to depose before the probe committee, demanding that the enquiry be started afresh. The varsity, however, turned down the demand and maintained that the students will be given three chances to appear before the disciplinary committee and, if they fail to do so, the panel will finalise its recommendations on the basis of evidence available, eyewitness accounts, students’ deposition, if any, and other material available on hand.

The students, who had refused to accept the findings of the probe panel, had sent “token” replies to the administration saying they cannot respond to “undefined” charges. The administration had also communicated to the students that if they do not reply to the show-cause notice, “it will be assumed that they did not have anything to say in the matter and the office will proceed further in the matter”.

The report of the five-member panel has pointed at lapses on part of the students as well as the administration. However, no explanation has been sought from any of the administrative officials.

Taking into account the role of outsiders in the controversial event, the university panel has found Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, both of whom face sedition charges, “guilty” of arousing communal, caste or regional feeling or creating disharmony among students.

While no specific charges have been made out against students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who has also been slapped with a sedition case in connection with the event, the university has found ABVP member Saurabh Sharma “guilty” of blocking traffic on 9 February, the day the controversial programme was held.

The university had on 11 March revoked the academic suspension of eight students including Kanhaiya after the probe panel submitted its report.

The probe panel is believed to have recommended rustication of Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar, Anirban and two other students for their alleged role in the event.