Thursday, February 25, 2010

Editorial, 'POLICING THE STUDENTS' in 15 February 2010 issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD, Vol. 6, No. 3


is invariably a delicate, thankless and generally undesirable job as the lessons distilled from experiences all over the world demonstrate. And student movements have not been confined to mere academic or sectional problems but have been intervening in, and even triggering, various people’s movements, at times political revolutions too. The establishment parties and conservative groups generally, save when it suits their convenience, sermonize against students participating in politics but we were never attracted by that insipidity. Moreover, nowadays bulk of the university students are fully-eligible-to-vote citizens and it would not be proper or advisable in the interests of society to bar them from participation in politics in the name of exclusive priority to their academic careers. Then the logical corollary, of course, would be that just like any citizen a student can also be not immune to application/operation of law and intervention of law enforcing agencies. True, but at the same time there is another crucial aspect here that by custom, by convention and by ethics it is generally recognized that institutions of learning are akin to temples of education and have to be kept as free as possible from any outside intervention. Security and law and order problems are bound to crop up in the course of various students movements but to properly tackle those is best left to the discretion and wisdom of the teaching and governing staff of the universities and institutions concerned. Particularly the autonomy of the universities must be reverently preserved and promoted. An internal security force may be set up by the university authorities themselves to deal with any undesirable offensive activities but until and unless all persuasion and internal monitoring fails and, throwing their hands up, the university authorities specifically request the police to intervene [e.g. recent instance of the police cleaning up the main auditorium of the Vienna University which was under 2 months occupation by the students – actually out of 100 cleared only 15 turned out to be students and others homeless outsiders – on the request of the Principal concerned], it must normally be a ‘hands off’ policy for the police vis-à-vis student campuses. 