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Judicial inquiry into abusive RGNUL staffer allegation leaves students concerned about process, retaliation, amidst ‘chilling’ atmosphere

Judicial inquiry kicks off against admin officer, students worried about procedure
Judicial inquiry kicks off against admin officer, students worried about procedure

Patiala-based additional district and sessions judge Manjot Kaur has begun the judicial inquiry into RGNUL Patiala administrative officer Capt SP Singh, against whom students have alleged multiple allegations of misconduct. However, students have also expressed concerns that the Singh’s likely presence at the proceedings could result in students not being able to share evidence freely, fearing administrative reprisals.

On 19 April 2019, Kaur held her first meeting after students had on 13 April submitted a 17 page report (excluding 97 pages of annexures), setting out a long list of allegations against Singh, including numerous reports of “vulgar and abusive behaviour” towards students and Singh allegedly slapping subordinate staff, as well as several other allegations they would like Kaur to inquire into to establish their veracity.

The students had compiled the reports from multiple interviews with students and staff at RGNUL.

We have reached out to Singh for comment several days ago but have not received a response.

Student representatives did attend the 19 April meeting with Kaur we understand, but instead sent their legal representative to the second meeting held on 24 April, at which Singh was present.

It is understood that one of five student representatives had already declined to be part of the representative committee.

“Not even student representatives are willing to take this risk,” commented one student about having to appear before Kaur with Singh present, adding: “If this is the approach that the judicial inquiry is going to take - that each student has to come and give their statement over again [in Patiala] and he [Singh] might be present - this is wholly and solely unacceptable to students.”

RGNUL vice chancellor (VC) Paramjit Jaswal commented: “Yes, the inquiry has started. It is an independent judicial inquiry, whatever the inquiry says I’m not going to comment on that. I have no role in this - it’s is a judicial inquiry.”

The student added that a “very chilling atmosphere” currently prevailed on campus, which was echoed in the report they submitted:

Before we move forward to the contents of our Complaint against Sh. S.P. Singh, we wish to bring to the notice of Your Lordship and the Judicial Inquiry Committee that there is a chilling atmosphere of threat and fear prevailing in the University amongst Students and Class IV employees alike following the days of our peaceful protest for demanding justice, accountability, fairness and transparency in the conduct of the University administration. Since the calling off of the aforementioned Students’ protest, the Students of the University have been subjected to a barrage of threats and vindictive actions by certain factions of the administration either in areas of academics, examinations or attendance etc. Even while writing this Complaint, we have been looking over our shoulders constantly to ensure that we escape the repercussions that we will face at the hands of the tyrannical university administration for preparing this Complaint. We humbly request the Judicial Inquiry Committee to not treat this investigation as a cold enquiry, but one that has taken birth out of a hundred hours plus protest which had been tacitly building up for more than half a decade under the rule of the current administration.

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