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HC stays JNU students' rustication (but only if they stop making trouble for powers that be)

The Delhi high court today stayed all disciplinary action, including rustication orders, against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and others, on the condition that they withdraw all current agitation.

Justice Manmohan gave a conditional stay on disciplinary action against all JNU students if they end all agitation. "If you have confidence in us, you will withdraw everything (agitation)," he said.

The court made it clear that the "protection granted by it was conditional", saying "they shall immediately withdraw the current agitation and not indulge in any strike or dharna".

"At the outset, the petitioners assured that JNU Student Union would not indulge in any strike or agitation or dharna. The petitioners also assured discipline in campus would be maintained," said the judge after students assured the court.

The court's order came on the batch of petitions moved by Kanhaiya Kumar and others challenging the varsity's disciplinary action against them and the fines imposed on them for their alleged role in a controversial event on Kashmir organised on the university campus on 9 February.

Kanhaiya was fined Rs 10,000, while Khalid and Bhattacharya were rusticated and Rs 20,000 fine imposed on the former. The university took the action on 25 April after a high level inquiry committee set up by the varsity administration found them guilty of "misconduct" and "indiscipline".

Staying the disciplinary action order, the court said: "Until the appeal (students' appeal against disciplinary action order) is heard and decided by the appellant authority (headed by vice chancellor), the impugned order (disciplinary order) shall not be given effect to."

"In the event the appeal filed by the students before the appellant authority is dismissed," the high court said, "the order of the high level inquiry committee will not be given effect for two weeks".

This will give a window to the students to challenge the appellant authority decision before the high court.

Lawyer Akhil Sibal, appearing for one of the students, raised the contention that the appeal lie with the VC who had passed the disciplinary action order.

Earlier in the day, the court asked the agitating students of JNU to end their strike, and only then it would hear their plea.

The court on 10 May had refused to stay the rustication order of the JNU passed by the university against Khalid and Bhattacharya and sought the response from JNU on their pleas.A

The 9 February event led to the arrests of Kanhaiya Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya on sedition charges after it was alleged that participants at the event shouted anti-national slogans. Delhi Police repeatedly claimed they had evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar and the other students but failed to produce it in court, leading to their release from jail on bail.

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