New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was on Monday directed by Delhi High Court not to implement for a week the order passed by its appellate authority holding some students including Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya guilty of indiscipline in connection with the controversial 9 February event.
The direction came on pleas by Khalid and Bhattacharya, who were penalised along with 19 others, including Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, challenging the findings of the appellate authority.
In a related development on Monday, Kanhaiya and seven other students also moved the high court against the order. Their matters were mentioned before a bench of justices BD Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar which fixed the pleas for hearing on Tuesday.
During the hearing on the petitions filed by Khalid and Bhattacharya, their lawyers told Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the operation of the 22 August order of appellate authority has to be stayed as it would come into effect on Tuesday.
Khalid's counsel Akhil Sibal said his client has been rusticated from the university for the monsoon session which would end in December this year.
Similarly, Bhattacharya's counsel said his client has been directed to be out of JNU for five years.
At the fag end of the hearing, when JNU's counsel sought time to file an affidavit on their pleas, the court said, "You (JNU) do not implement the orders (of appellate authority) for this week."
The JNU counsel agreed to it after which the court fixed the matter for further hearing on 8 September.
During the hearing, both students alleged that the appellate authority of the JNU Vice-Chancellor had not dealt with the issues raised by them in their appeal against the recommendations of a high-level enquiry committee (HLEC) which was set up to look into the matter relating to the 9 February event in which anti-India slogans were alleged raised inside the varsity campus.
JNU's counsel countered their claims and said that the authority had dealt with all issues raised by the two students while deciding on their appeals.
In May, the high court had put on hold the disciplinary action against these students by the varsity till their appeals were decided by the JNU's appellate authority.
It had also said if the appeals were rejected, then the order of appellate authority would not be given effect to till a period of two weeks.
During the hearing, Khalid's counsel claimed that the JNU appellate authority had acted in a "draconian manner" and the records showed that his client was not supplied the documents required for his defence and the prescribed rules were not followed by the varsity.
"I had filed a comprehensive appeal. No documents were supplied to me till date and no grounds raised by me in my appeal were dealt with by the appellate authority," he said.
"When I was called for hearing before the authority, I was told to inspect five volumes of documents within 15 minutes. The entire exercise was incorrect," he said.
Bhattacharya's counsel said the way the order was passed by the authority was against the prescribed rules.
However, JNU's counsel maintained that all documents were supplied to these students and they were given "full opportunity" during the hearing of the matter.
To this, the court asked JNU's counsel, "How can you say that you (Khalid) go through these five volumes of documents and tell what you have to say right now?"
Responding to this, the counsel said, "he was given ample time to go through these documents."
The court, however, asked the counsel to show something on record which reflected that Khalid was allowed access to these documents.
The counsel said Khalid was given access to documents on the day when he was called for hearing before the authority.
Kanhaiya, Khalid and Bhattacharya were earlier arrested in a sedition case in connection with the 9 February event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised and they are now out on bail.
The 21 JNU students were slapped with varied punishments ranging from rustication, hostel debarment to financial penalty on the basis of the probe by the enquiry committee which had found them guilty of the violation of disciplinary norms.
They had gone on an indefinite hunger strike against the probe panel's recommendation which had lasted for 16 days.
As the varsity had refused to relent and withdraw the punitive action proposed against the students despite their failing health, some students had moved the court challenging the action.
The high court, which had stayed the action against the students till their appeals were decided by the appellate authority, had directed JNUSU to immediately withdraw the hunger strike and not launch any fresh agitation.
JNU had then formed a four-member committee to hear the appeals of students.