[BBC Documentary on PM Modi] DU moves Delhi High Court against order setting aside debarment of NSUI Secy Lokesh Chugh

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Lolesh Chugh had been debarred for a year for his alleged involvement in screening on the campus a controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Delhi University on Friday moved the Delhi High Court against an order setting aside the debarring of NSUI Secretary Lokesh Chugh for a year for his alleged involvement in screening on the campus a controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Najmi Waziri issued notice to Lokesh Chugh, a Ph.D. scholar and national secretary of Congress' student wing, on the appeal filed by the varsity against the order passed by a single-judge bench of the high court.

The matter will be taken up next on September 14.

Notably, in April, Chugh had approached the High Court challenging the university's decision to debar him for a year for his alleged involvement in the screening of the documentary, 'India: The Modi Question', which is related to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The documentary was screened earlier this year.

Chugh had alleged that the memorandum proceeded on a biased premise, as it accused Chugh of indiscipline on the basis of his alleged participation in the screening, whereas, others had only been asked to submit a written apology.

Furthermore, the plea had asserted that Chugh is a sincere and meritorious student of DU, and has an exemplary academic record, therefore the Impugned Memorandum was likely to rob him of various academic and professional opportunities. “Surely, alleged screening of the BBC Documentary cannot be a reason to deny the Petitioner a chance at academic excellence”, it had added.

Chugh had prayed for setting aside the March 10 memorandum, quashing of the February 16 show-cause notice, and expunging of the remarks made in the disciplinary proceedings against Chugh, in view of his exemplary academic record.

On April 27, while setting aside DU's order, the bench of Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav had opined that action against Lokesh Chugh was taken in violation of the principle of natural justice and that the reasons were necessary to be assigned by the administrative authority in the order.

"The court is unable to sustain the impugned order dated March 10, 2023. The impugned order is set aside. The admission of the petitioner is restored. Necessary consequences will follow," the court had ordered.

The single-judge bench had also clarified that the university is free to take legal action against the petitioner since the debarment order was being overturned due to a violation of the principle of natural justice.

DU in its present appeal has stated, "The Ld. Single Judge has passed the impugned judgment without appreciating the fact that section 144 CrPC was imposed at the time the protest on 27.01.2023 and that as per the video footage available, the Respondent No. 1 was clearly in violation of the unlawful assembly in front, of Gate No. 4, Faculty of Arts, University of Delhi". 

Case Title: University of Delhi v. Lokesh Chugh