The Madhya Pradesh High Court sent a notice to the state government for its response to a written petition filed by the head of the anthropology department at Dr Harisingh Gour University for being forced to withdraw from a international webinar following unprecedented police warning of proposed âanti-nationalâ speakers.
The university, known as the University of Sagar because it is located in the district of Sagar, had to withdraw from the webinar titled “Cultural and Linguistic Obstacles in Achieving Scientific Temperament” which was scheduled for July 30-31. of this year. The webinar was co-hosted by Montclair State University, USA and included Gauhar Raza, former CSIR Chief Scientist, and Professor Apoorvanand, University of Delhi, as keynote speakers.
The brief request was filed by Professor Rajesh Kumar Gautam, HoD Anthropology at the university, after Sagar District Police Superintendent Atul Singh wrote to the vice-chancellor of the university on the eve of the webinar , claiming that the organizers could be reserved under Article 505 of the IPC if the event resulted in a public order problem.
The university has also come under pressure from Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to withdraw from the virtual conference. Opposing the invitation granted to Professor Apoorvanand and Gauhar Raza, ABVP District Chairperson Shreeram Richaria wrote to the VC, threatening to file an FIR.
The university and the applicant, Professor Gautam, eventually withdrew from the participation, the latter having moved the tribunal.
In his petition, Professor Gautam said he had been subjected to “mental agony and embarrassment” and was also “deprived of the opportunity to add to his academic score according to the performance indicator. academic, which is counted during promotion in accordance with UGC regulations and for which one of the criteria is the number of academic seminars / webinars organized.
âA habit cannot be established by state authority of accepting any version of events established by a group (political or non-political) in an attempt to censor academic speech and seminars. As a result, the petitioner finds himself severely limited in his academic freedoms and feels a general ‘chilling effect’ on speech and actions, âhe added.
The applicant considers that he has been âdefamed and insulted by the defendants. The petitioner, also being an individual from the listed caste, was discriminated against in the most unlawful and arbitrary manner by the defendants, âadded the petition.
Praying for relief, Professor Gautam in his petition said the SP’s letter to the vice-chancellor should be declared arbitrary and illegal.
The court gave the state government three weeks to file its response.
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