Explain termination of Dr Sandeep Pandey, High Court orders BHU

In a major setback to its summary and unilateral decision to terminate the services of renowned Gandhian, professor and Magsaysay award winner, Dr Sandeep Pandey on January 6, 2016, the Allahabad High Court has ordered the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to explain the Board of Governor (BOG) decision that led to the termination.  
It was in pursuance of Resolution No 3.59 passed at the meeting of the Board of Governors held on December 21, 2015 that the decision to terminate the services was taken. The BOG, of the IIT BHU will now have to defend its resolution, which has been passed, casting stigma and making serious allegations against Dr Pandey. Dr Sandeep Pandey was called 'anti-national', without providing any opportunity for him to be heard, or giving him a chance to respond or explain. The BOG simply took cognisance of a letter from a student of M.A. IInd year Political Science (who never attended the IIT classes), even without taking any pains to verify the correctness of the allegations leveled. Dr Pandey was Visiting faculty at the IIT, BHU.
This action had drawn widespread condemnation across the country and was seen to be not just arbitrary but a manifestation of the machinations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sway on the everyday functionings of the Ministry for Human Resources Development (MHRD).(See story below). The termination of the services of Dr. Sandeep Pandey as visiting faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT BHU was challenged by him in Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 5323 of 2016, Sandeep Pandey Vs. Union of India and others.
The matter was taken up before the High Court at Allahabad on Friday, February 5, 2016  before the bench consisting of Justices V.K. Shukla and  M.C. Tripathi. The High Court under its order has asked the counsel appearing for IIT BHU to seek instructions in the matter as to how he defends the termination order and has posted the matter for hearing on February 11, 2016. Advocate Rahul  Mishra, appeared for Dr Pandey and Ajeet Kumar Singh for IIT BHU.
Dr Pandey in his petition has argued that his removal is an open abuse of power on ideological and non-academic grounds and it has its roots somewhere else. Besides he has argued that
the Vice Chancellor-Professor G.C. Tripathi was appointed as the Chairman of IIT Board of Governors by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India, bypassing the panel of five names recommended by the resolution of the Board. Professor G.C. Tripathi and Dean of Faculty Affairs, IIT (BHU), Professor Dhananjay Pandey, both gentlemen are associated with RSS, who has primarily forced the decision.

-The decision taken by the Board for terminating the services of Dr Pandey sans any academic considerations and it is merely on account of conflict of ideologies and therefore if such a decision stands vindicated, it will surely pose a threat to the basic fundamental freedoms granted in the Indian Constitution.

-The decision of the Board at the instance of the Chairman is in fact a step further to saffronisation of the IIT (BHU) and the University and in our democratic state such an attempt which is aimed at suppressing the ideologies is required to be nipped in bud as otherwise it will have serious effects.

-The framers of our Constitution have given to us the fundamental right in the shape of freedoms as detailed in Article 19 of the Constitution of India, particularly freedom to speak under Article 19 (1) (a), which includes professing even different ideologies and State is prohibited from curbing such freedoms which are subject only to some reasonable restrictions (in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence) and the IIT (BHU) by means of the resolution and the consequent termination order has made a dent upon the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of India.   

-The BOG resolution and order under challenge in the petition, has nothing to do with the academic performance of Dr Sandeep Pandey and he has been simply punished by the dictates of the Chairman of the Board. The Board was guided in its decision with the complaint of Avinash Pandey which appears to have been procured, without any verification. The truthfulness of the contents of the complaint were not verified through any preliminary fact finding enquiry. It was a rushed and un-thought through decision. .

-The branding of Dr Pandey as anti-national under the opinion formed by the Board has very serious effects as he is being sought to be permanently non-suited for any appointment/ engagement by any academic institute and that too without any enquiry or opportunity for him to be heard.

-The resolution and termination order under challenge in the High Court, which is stigmatic and passed without affording opportunity to the petitioner, Dr Pandey, and without even any fact finding enquiry-(i) goes to infringe fundamental rights of the petitioner under Article 14, 16, 19 (1) (a) & 21 of the Constitution of India; (ii) is in complete violation of principles of natural justice & (iii) is wholly without jurisdiction because it was passed in the absence of any agenda on the board. 
See also
Intolerance Strikes, Sandeep Pandey is out of BHU
RSS hardliners ensured the premature termination, says Pandey
My contract at the IIT, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Varanasi as a visiting faculty has prematurely ended after teaching there for two-and-a-half years. This decision was prematurely taken by the Board of Governors (BOG). In a recent Board meeting the Vice Chancellor of BHU, who was made the Chairman of the IIT Board of Governors by the Minister of HRD, government of India, Smriti Irani, after by-passing the panel of five names recommended by a resolution of the Board of Governors. Thereafter, professor G.C. Tripathi, and Dean of Faculty Affairs, IIT, BHU and professor Dhananjay Pandey, both gentlemen associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), primarily forced the decision.

The charges levelled against me are that I am a Naxalite, showed a banned documentary on Nirbhaya case and am also involved in anti-national activities.

I wish to clarify that I'm not a Naxalite. The ideology that I would consider myself closest to is Gandhian.

But I do identify with the causes taken up by Naxalites even though I may not agree with their methods.

The banned documentary on Nirbhaya made by BBC was to be screened in my Development Studies class during the even semester of academic year 2014-15 but the decision was withdrawn after intervention of Chief Proctor of the BHU and officer of the Lanka Police Station just before the class. However, a discussion on the issue of violence against women in our society was conducted after screening a different documentary.

I do not believe in the idea of a nation or national boundaries, which I think are responsible for artificial divisions among human beings similar to the ones on the basis of caste or religion. Hence I cannot be anti or pro-nation. I am pro-people. I'm not a nationalist but am a universalist. I have no regrets as the decision to terminate my contract has not been taken based on my academic performance but it is because of my political views and activities. I've enjoyed my stay at IIT, BHU and wish the Institute and the University the best.
(Sandeep Pandey, a Magsaysay awardee for emergent leadership has trained in Mechanical Engineering but has been working on social justice issues; he is co-founder of Aasha)



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