The Kerala High Court ruling on Tuesday sharply warning against the strikes organized by student outfits that disrupt classes in colleges and Universities is likely to invite debates and discussions in coming days.
The High Court permitted police to take action against the students who disturb the classes in educational institutions in the name of strikes. Justice V Chitambaresh observed that though higher education was not a fundamental right, it was, indisputably a human right as it’s related to one’s development. He said that the police could remove the protestors on complaints by the principals or Head of Departments adding that no student had any right to obstruct other students from attending classes on the pretext of strikes and campaigns. The court was considering a complaint filed by two students, Leo Lucose and Aditya Tejus Krishnan of School of Legal Studies under Cochin University regarding the loss of working days. The students had also requested to schedule the class hours as per the UGC recommendations. It asserted that the authorities had the duty to ensure that the students received sufficient class hours required to face the examinations. Strikes has been frequent in the college campuses in the state with the student wings of different political parties issuing notices and disrupting the classes finally leading to the shutdown of institutions. The decision of any particular student outfit is thus forcefully imposed on all the students. The court said that the student not attending the classes should be taking responsibility for their attendance. The observation that the teachers could take classes even if there is one student in the classroom is relevant. Majority of the students are victims of imposed strikes and therefore the court ruling is widely welcomed.
The society usually has a rampant aversion towards the functioning of various student wings of political parties. The court rulings at different times have curtailed in many ways, the extent of student politics. The courts have often backed the elite mentality that students should just attend the classes and study and not engage in any social or political activities. It’s also a reality that student politics have been downgraded to a level inviting dislike and scorn. The mainstream student outfits haven’t been able to develop any different protest/activity methods other than organizing unnecessary strikes in campuses for trivial reasons and hindering the classes. Even while they argue that student politics are part of democracy, they deny even the basic democratic rights of others in the campuses they dominate. The student wing of the Left Front, SFI, the most influential in Kerala campuses, stands first in this aspect. In short, the main reason for the society’s aversion towards student politics is the various student outfits. Our educational institutions shouldn’t turn into concentration camps run by teachers. There should be organizational and political activities happening in there. If all these are curbed with the support of law and court orders, it would only lead to mess. At the same time, the various outfits should make efforts to revive and bolster student politics to a more standard level. The mentality of calling a strike for anything and everything should change. Parents, courts, students and the media should all work towards making a difference in this regard.