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Ban On ‘Politricks’, Not On ‘Politics’

Political activism is strictly banned in the campus. Students are forbidden to organise or attend meetings other than the official ones. Students resorting to strikes are strictly prohibited from entering the verandah of the building or the class rooms. Upholding the validity of the above clause in a college disciplinary manual, the Kerala High Court has held that it is a reasonable restriction permissible under Art. 19 (1) (a) or (c) of the Indian Constitution. In other words, politics is banned in colleges.[1]

Justice VR Krishna Iyer wrote an article strongly criticising the above judgment. Politics is a social science and its study through organized movements if peacefully pursued, even if a wee-bit restively and passionately deserves no veto. To banish politics for a student of eighteen years of age is to deny him the fundamental opportunity of becoming a good citizen to vote. It is anti-democratic to refuse a student a campus opportunity to talk on politics , to read politics , to discuss politics in an association, to argue politics with his fellow students, subject, of course, to a peaceful atmosphere , disciplined behavior obedience to the  public health and morality. Educational pharmacopoeia must cure the anarchic pathology of party-politicking, even if officially backed by Management –disguised policy, which often is subversive of radical constitutional activism. Blanket ban on campus political activity, save official ones, has a fascist flavor, Justice Iyer condemned.[2]

In Pakistan, a student for securing admission has to give an undertaking that they shall not “indulge in politics”.  If he indulges so, he shall be expelled from the institution without any further notice. The restriction was imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan by way of interim order and it was finally confirmed.[3] The dignity of the teachers, the institution, and major students’ community has been severely adversely affected. All the lawyers appeared were of the unanimous view that what is happening inside the campus is not proper, the court noticed.

What is ‘indulging in politics’? A debate on political issue is a welcome step and is political science. But what is happening under the guise of politics is a criticism of the government by the political parties who are not in power. For example, increase price of petrol and diesel is always opposed by all the political parties against the ruling front. But none of the political parties are concerned with the hike in wages to legislative members which indirectly affects common man.

Now what is going on under the guise of politics is strike, dharna, bandhs, hartals, processions, picketing, etc. which causes difficulties to the general public. The so-called politicians justify such an act relying on the activities done during freedom struggle. The fact that at the said period of freedom struggle there was no Constitution to protect the people of this country has been clearly ignored.

Dr BR Ambedkar, while concluding his last Constituent Assembly speech made on 25th November, 1949, gave a warning to the people of India. The first thing, in my judgment, we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us. The above speech was reminded by the Kerala High Court in a recent order on a contempt petition upholding the right of the children who come to educational institutions for study.

The Supreme Court has held that every person has a right to know about the criminal antecedents and wealth of the persons who stood for election. There is no protest or bandh opposing such a direction. In order to overthrow the said directions, an ordinance was passed overnight, which was later replaced by Act. But, the Supreme Court[4] has set aside the enactment which snatches the right of the voters to know about the persons who are getting elected. The Supreme Court again upheld the right to know as fundamental right.

The election manifesto will contain so many offers to the general public, but it is known that most of them are not complied with. If you ask why, the answer will be it is “politics”, a tricky answer. If somebody asks the politician on some unjustifiable action, they will answer in a tricky manner saying in politics, it is common. If there is some action which could not be accepted by them, they will conduct protest march, dharna, hartal, procession, etc. They will cleverly ignore their right to challenge the same in the constitutional courts. If somebody finds illegality being done by a politician and questions, they will ask the person to go to court and prove. That is their ‘politics”. As rightly said by the Supreme Court of India that politics has been a profession in India, perhaps the most popular and uninhabited occupation with its perils of course. [5] The agitations, dharnas, hartals, processions, etc causing difficulties to other persons or rather which infringes the right of other persons are not politics, but can be called as “politricks” . It has nothing to do with real politics. What is prohibited by law is “politricks”, and not politics.

[1]Sojan Francis v. M.G. University (2003 (2) KLT 582

[2] Extracted from the article “College Campus Politics- Nocent or Innocent? – Book titled Random Reflections, published by Universal Law Publishing co Pvt Ltd.

[3]M Ismail Qureshi vs M Awais Quasim.1992 SCMR 1781. 10TH March, 1993.

[4]PUCL vs Union of India.2003 (4) SCC 399.

[5] GET, AP vs PVTG Raju. AIR 1976 SC 140.

Adv. P.B.Sahasranaman is a Lawyer practising at High Court of Kerala.

[The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of LiveLaw and LiveLaw does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same]

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