TISS Students can continue peaceful protests: Bombay Civil Court to TISS admin

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: March 28, 2018

Bombay City Civil Court today said that TISS students could continue their peaceful protests without any obstruction to daily activities of the administration and institute. The court was presiding over a civil suit filed by the TISS administration in which it accused students of “causing obstruction” with their strike and illegal activities.

The TISS administration sent a legal notice on March 27 to 6 of its students asking them to appear before the City civil court today. It alleged in the suit that students were obstructing the institute’s administrative work and daily activities. The institute also sent memos to 15 other students just before sending the legal notice and gave a “final call” to stop the protests failing which, legal action would be initiated against them.

Reportedly the notice was issued in the name of six students, but was actually served to only one student, that too late at night making it difficult for them to prepare for the court's proceedings. Interestingly, the lawyer appearing on behalf of TISS administration insisted that the matter be heard for urgent reliefs. The lawyer argued that the demands of the TISS students “did not fall under the jurisdiction of TISS” and that they had already assured the students that they “won’t evict” them even if they did not pay the dining charges.

The lawyers appearing for the defendants requested that time be granted for filing an affidavit in reply and also informed the court that the settlement meeting that was to take place earlier today was cancelled by the administration for reason that the matter was sub-judice. Upon enquiry from the court they informed that the students were only carrying out peaceful protests.

The lawyer appearing for TISS administration, however, said that the students were obstructing the regular activities of the court and said that they need to be injuncted immediately. He further added that students had held officers captive and vandalised property and asked the court to direct the students to stop the protests immediately. However this was denied by the TISS students who were in attendance.

After hearing the parties, the court decided to not interfere with peaceful protests of the students. However, it directed that the students should not cause any obstruction in the daily activities of the administration and the institute or use violent means.

Commenting on this, Fahad Ahmed, General Secretary of Students Union, TISS Mumbai, said that the administration should resolve the issue through a dialogue. “We have been peacefully protesting for the last 36 days and today the court also did not oppose our strike. The TISS administration must resolve the issue through a dialogue, not by booking false cases against students.” Ahmed further said that the ongoing strike is “Fight for social justice” and will continue until the institution agrees to the students’ charter of demands.

Another student, Ajmal Khan said that students were feeling positive about the court proceedings today, he added, “The idea behind the legal notices sent to some of us was to demonize us and say that only some individuals are behind the protests. They wanted to show that the protests are an outcome of a few individuals’ minds and not the mandate of the general body.” He added that the students have been ready to have a dialogue with the administration for a long time, but TISS are not responding to students’ communication. “They even cancelled a meeting that was supposed to happen today” he added. “Actually these are diversionary tactics from the institute. Why don’t they inform us about the actual progress made on our demands,” he asked.
He called the observations of the court “a huge setback” for the TISS administration. Students are going to continue the protests.

The court permitted the TISS students to file their affidavit in reply and posted the matter on June 19, 2018.
With inputs from Lara Jesani, Bombay High Court lawyer who attended the proceedings.