Mumbai: In a relief to a first-year law student from a Vile Parle college, the Bombay high court on Thursday stayed her rustication for allegedly smoking cannabis on campus and also allowed her to take online internal assesment exams for now.
In the first case heard via publicly accessible video-conference, Justice Gautam Patel heard the student’s petition challenging her rustication from Kirit Mehta School of Law College run by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. In it, she also urged to be allowed to appear for online exams which will get over on April 11. Her petition said the college’s action is arbitrary and disproportionate without giving any reason. She was rusticated on March 18 along with another student. Some 18 students were suspended, too, for allegedly consuming cannabis on campus.
Her advocate Mohit Bharadwaj argued she was denied a hearing and falsely implicated based on third-party material. The college’s advocate, Manorama Mohanty, countered saying the college has relied on social media posts and specifically an Instagram post that allegedly showed the student smoking cannabis not only on college premises but actually in a classroom. She said due to the lockdown and closure of the college, she cannot provide an internal report and pictures relied upon for rustication. The judge questioned the authenticity of the material and wondered how the college came by the material in the first place. “There must be some degree of formality. You are dealing with rustication… Your processes have to be open and transparent,” remarked Justice Patel.
In the order, Justice Patel noted that since the material pertaining to the social media posts and other documents cannot be accessed by the college and are placed before the court, a prima facie decision on merits is not possible. He granted the student ad interim relief by “staying the implementation and operation of the letter of rustication” and allowing her to appear for the internal exams. “Thus, it is imperative that some relief is granted as a rollback at a later stage would be impossible,” he said. He clarified this order will continue till normal working of court resumes and if later it is found that the student is not entitled to interim relief, she will have to accept those consequences.

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