Wardha University: Despite HC Granting Relief to Expelled Research Scholars, Varsity Continues to Shut its Doors

Three research scholars faced expulsion and two other students were suspended for their involvement in protests against the vice chancellor.
Students protesting outside Wardha University's gate
Students protesting outside Wardha University's gateNiranjan Oberoi

New Delhi: Despite the Bombay High Court staying the expulsion of Niranjan Oberoi, a PhD scholar of the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Maharashtra’s Wardha city, the varsity has denied him campus entry.

The Nagpur Bench of the High Court had put on hold the university’s decision pertaining to the expulsions of its two students — Oberoi and Vivek Mishra. 

Mishra, who recently had called off his hunger strike following the court order, has once again begun the protest against the university’s “arbitrary” decision. His deteriorating health still remains a cause for concern for many.

The Mooknayak spoke to Oberoi who said that his ordeals were yet to get over. “On Saturday (February 17), I tried to enter the campus with the court order, but they (the university authorities) did not let me in,” he alleged.

He said he was stopped at the main gate itself, and administrative officials did not even bother to meet him.

“I was only informed they have not received any order yet from their higher authorities,” he said, adding that it happened despite the fact that he had mailed a copy of the order and had received an acknowledgement from the registrar.

On February 16, hearing Kumar’s petition, the court observed, “According to him, the impugned order is passed without there being show cause notice and offering an opportunity of hearing in the matter. The pleadings made in the petition are not controverted by the respondents by putting their appearance and filing their reply in the matter.”

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The bench then proceeded to stay the impugned order.

The petition against the varsity’s decision was filed in the High Court bench on February 1. The university administration was issued a notice and directed to respond to the plea till February 16. But it chose not to file any reply till date.

The court had then said, “The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the candidature of the petitioner as a research fellow, pursuing Ph.D., stands canceled without affording an opportunity of hearing to him.”

Oberoi said his fellow student Mishra, who has been on a hunger strike since February 3, following the judicial intervention, has been allowed to write his remaining examinations.

The court has made similar observations with regard to Mishra’s expulsion. “It is the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the order of suspension has been passed without issuing any show cause notice or granting any opportunity of hearing,” stated the court, issuing a notice to the university. 

“In this background,” said the court, “We deem it appropriate to direct the respondents to permit the petitioner to appear in the examination for the remaining papers, results of which shall be subject to the outcome of the writ petition”.

Both the petitions are being heard by a division bench of justices Abhay J. Mantri and Nitin W. Sambre.

Once the order came, the student called off his hunger strike but has still been protesting outside the university gate.

Kumar revealed that Mishra’s health had taken another hit on February 18. “He had sudden chest pains and had to be taken to Wardha Civil Hospital,” he said.

The Mooknayak had emailed on January 28 to the university registrar, seeking comments on the allegedly unfair appointment of the vice-chancellor and the expulsion of students. As of now, there has been no response from the university.

Unrest at Wardha University at a Glance

In August 2023, the former vice chancellor of the university resigned. Contrary to the expectation that a senior most professor, L. Karunyakara, will be appointed as the new VC, Bhimaraya Metri, the former director of IIM Nagpur, was deputed as the new VC two months later.

This was “unexpected” for many, and the decision sparked protests by the students' union — resulting in the expulsion of several students who had displayed banners opposing the new VC during the Republic Day celebrations.

As a result, three research scholars were expelled and two other students were suspended for participating in the protest during the vice chancellor’s speech. Those who were terminated have been staging demonstrations.

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