The Kerala High Court on Wednesday ruled that strikes, rallies and gheraos that affect regular classes should not be held on the campuses of schools and colleges.

It observed that those who are not participating in the strike have every right to attend their classes and no one should force them to participate in agitations that affect smooth conduct of classes.

The HC verdict has evoked sharp reactions from many student outfits and political parties which they said would affect students’ rights and their plan to carry out peaceful protests. Though the court had banned politics on campuses earlier also it was not implemented in the state and the court had passed several strictures against it.

The important verdict came in the wake of some private schools in Pathanamthitta moving the court with a plea to restrain student politics. Though the court had banned politics on the campus earlier also it was not implemented properly and students were suffering due to frequent disruptions of classes during strikes, they contended.

Agreeing with their contention the court said academic institutions were only meant for studies and they should not be venues for strikes and protests. It also held that nobody has the right to override a student’s right to study and action can be against those who indulge in strikes, rallies and gheraos that affect regular classes. The court said campuses can have peaceful discussions and sharing of thoughts in a peaceful manner. It also held that students and others who force students to take part in the strike can be dealt with the law as it was the infringement of the basic right of the student.

Almost all political parties in the state including the ruling CPI(M), opposition Congress and BJP said such a blanket ban would not do any good to the student community and urged the government to file an appeal against it.

“Peaceful protests are part of democracy,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran also said “it was not feasible in a politically vibrant society like Kerala.” Many student organisations like the Students Federation of India, Kerala Students Union and ABVP also expressed their concern over the verdict.

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