Allahabad University, Prayagraj in the “grip of criminals”, Allahabad HC takes suo motu cognisance

Allahabad University, Prayagraj in the “grip of criminals”, Allahabad HC takes suo motu cognisance

Meera Emmanuel

The Allahabad High Court has taken note of the deteriorating academic atmosphere and state of lawlessness prevailing in the Allahabad University Campus. The death of an ex-student on the campus premises has prompted the Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saurabh Shaym Shamshery to register a suo motu PIL to address the situation.

On April 15, Rohit Shukla, a former LLB student was reportedly shoin the PCB hostel premises following a tussle with another student, Adarsh Tripathi. The High Court took cognisance of the issue the following day.

The first order passed on April 16 in the case of In re : Criminal activities in the city of Prayagraj and the incident of murder of an ex-student of Allahabad University at P.C.B. Hostel, Allahabad Versus State of Uttar Pradesh and others notes,

The Allahabad University is one among the most prestigious Universities in entire country with a glorious past. The University has produced finest academicians, scholars and jurist. But a prominent centre of education appears to have now been captured by the criminals and the University Administration appears to be a silent spectator only.”

The Bench expressed concern not only over the criminalised atmosphere of the Allahabad University campus, but also the entire city of Prayagraj. As noted in its April order,

As a matter of fact, it is not only the University campus but entire city of Prayagraj and its outskirts are in the grip of criminals. The newspapers like “Dainik Jagran” and “Amar Ujala” are full of the reports relating to the criminal activities existing in the city of Prayagraj and the areas nearby. The citizens of the area are not feeling themselves safe and protected by the law maintaining Authorities.”

In furtherance of remedying this sorry state of affairs, the Court first directed that status reports be filed in the matter. Allahabad University and concerned police/ State authorities were made parties to the case. When the matter was taken up next on April 22, the Court recorded that the reports filed by the authorities revealed a shocking state of affairs at the University.

It was stated that during the raids in the hostels huge amount of arms and ammunition were found. Further, it was also stated that campus politics were being conducted in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in University of Kerala (1) v. Council, Principals’ Colleges, Kerala And Others. In this case, the Court had placed restrictions on the political activities permissible in University campuses. The general restrictions involved limits on using pamphlets, posters etc. during electoral campaigns, restrictions on disrupting classes for political activities, prohibition on property destruction etc.

Another issue subsequently brought to the Court’s attention was the failure of the University to maintain campus infrastructure. This also involved allegations that books and other articles, given to the University by an alumni charitable trust were not being properly maintained. In response, it has directed the University to inform the Court about the budgetary allocation for the maintenance of University hostels, as well the assistance rendered to it by the Sir Sunder Lal Hostel Alumni Charitable Trust in this regard.

The University has further been directed to chalk out ways to remedy the above issues in consultation with the District Administration. The Administrative authorities also have been directed to extend necessary cooperation in this regard. At one juncture, the Court was informed that the University authorities were finding it difficult to have hostels vacated and maintained due to the limited assistance offered by the district administration. In response, the Court remarked,

We hope that the district administration will provide all necessary assistance to the University, if demanded to ensure its task to make the University campus crime free and academic friendly.”

As of now, the Court was informed that at least 407 rooms in 13 hostels were sealed after inspection, in furtherance of the University’s efforts to rid the campus of unauthorised occupants. In respect of the same, the Court has directed,

It is expected from the University that all necessary maintenance work relating to the 407 rooms mentioned above and all other hostels shall be initiated and completed at earliest. It would be open for the University to de-seal the rooms, if those are required for the purpose of maintenance. However, it shall be ensured that no person unauthorizedly occupy any place in the University campus and the hostels under its control.”

It may be noted that the deceased student, Shukla, has also been reportedly named as an illegal occupant of the University hostel.

The matter has been posted to be taken up next on July 5, 2019.

Additional Advocate General MC Chaturvedi and Additional Government Advocate Ali Murtaza represented the State of Uttar Pradesh. Advocate Chandan Sharma appeared for the Allahabad University.

Read the orders passed on April 16, April 22 and May 17 below

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