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Student Organisations Cannot Resort To Strikes In School/College Campuses, Declares Kerala HC [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
29 Feb 2020 8:54 AM GMT
Student Organisations Cannot Resort To Strikes In School/College Campuses, Declares Kerala HC [Read Judgment]
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"In so far as the students in the campus have a fundamental right to education, it can be safely held that anything that causes an impediment to the said right would be unconstitutional."
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The High Court of Kerala has declared that Student Organisations cannot resort to the modes of agitations like Strike, Dharna, Gherao, Processions etc. in school and college campuses for expressing their protests or dissent on any issues, political or otherwise, or for enforcement of their rights.

Justice PB Suresh Kumar observed that such activities of organizations of students in school and college campuses are affecting directly and indirectly the academic and other activities of students who do not belong to the organizations and thus violating the fundamental right of such students. While disposing of a batch of writ petitions filed by Schools and individuals including Professors, the judge made these observations:

"It is declared that organizations of students do not have any right to disrupt or disturb the academic and other activities of students who do not want to partake in their strikes and agitations, or any right to compel such students to forego the aforesaid activities in their campuses. Similarly, it is also declared that organizations of students do not have any right to convene any meetings and resort to the modes of agitations like Strike, Dharna, Gherao, Processions etc. in school and college campuses for expressing their protests or dissent on any issues, political or otherwise, or for enforcement of their rights. It is also declared that it is the obligation of the police to ensure that the fundamental rights of the students to pursue their academics in the campuses are not thwarted by anyone, including organizations of students."

The judge also clarified as follows:

It is, however, made clear that this judgement will not preclude the students from voicing their opinion on political issues and redressing their grievances by recourse to the various forums meant for the same in terms of the statutes and executive orders. Similarly, it is also made clear that this judgement will not preclude the competent authorities from introducing appropriate forums in the campuses for the students to voice their opinion on political issues and for redressal of their grievances in accordance with law, if the existing forums are not sufficient for the same.

Issues considered and answers of the Court

Do organizations of students, formed on political lines, have any right to compel students who do not want to partake in their strikes and agitations to forego the academic and other activities in their campus.

Organizations of students will not have any right to disrupt or disturb the academic and other activities of students who do not want to partake in their strikes and agitations or any right to compel such students to forego the academic activities in their campuses. 

Do organizations of students, or for that matter the students, have any right to convene meetings other than official meetings and resort to the modes of agitations like Strike, Dharna, Gherao, Processions etc. in school and college campuses for expressing their protests or dissent on any issues, political or otherwise, or for enforcement of their rights.

Education plays a key role in social and economic development of humanity. In so far as the students in the campus have a fundamental right to education, it can be safely held that anything that causes an impediment to the said right would be unconstitutional. The materials on record demonstrate beyond doubt that activities of organizations of students in convening meetings of their members and supporters and their conduct in resorting to the modes of agitations like Strike, Dharna, Gherao, Processions etc. in school and college campuses, are affecting directly and indirectly the academic and other activities of students who do not belong to the organizations and thus violating the fundamental right of such students. I have, therefore, no doubt that organizations of students, or for that matter the students, have no right whatsoever to convene meetings other than official meetings and resort to the modes of agitations like Strike, Dharna, Gherao, Processions etc. in school and college campuses for expressing their protests or dissent on any issues, political or otherwise, or for enforcement of their rights

The role of the police in matters relating to student unrest in the school and college campuses

It is the obligation of the police to ensure that the fundamental rights of the students to pursue their academics in the campuses are not flouted by anyone, including organizations of students.  

While parting with the judgment, the Court also said that the observations made in this judgment has already been stated in various earlier judgments. It said:

What is really disturbing is that despite several judgments, the position in the school and college campuses in the State remains to be the same and the institutions are constrained to approach this court even now for police aid so as to enable the students to pursue their education without external and internal disturbances. In other words, the pain and efforts taken by this court in similar matters have become a futile exercise.

The Court also issued the following directions to the police:

In the circumstances, I deem it appropriate to direct the Director of Collegiate Education, the Director General of Education and also the Registrars of the various Universities in the State to bring this judgment to the notice of the Heads of the educational institutions functioning under them, and direct them to bring the external and internal disturbances affecting the conduct of the classes forthwith to the notice of the police for necessary aid and to ensure that academic and other activities in the campuses are not affected in any manner. The authorities aforesaid are also directed to ensure compliance of the directions by appropriate means. There will also be a direction to the State Police Chief to bring this judgment to the notice of the police officers concerned in the State with a direction to extend police aid for the smooth conduct of the educational institutions as and when requested for either orally or in writing by the Head of the institutions. The State Police Chief is also directed to ensure compliance of the directions by appropriate means. Registry shall forward copies of this judgment for compliance to the Director of Collegiate Education, the Director General of Education, the Registrars of the various Universities in the State as also to the State Police Chief.

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