Published: 17th October 2019
You didn't name Registrar in petition? Case closed: Why Madras University withdrew student's admission
Kiruba Mohan had said that authorities had told him and even the media that he had participated and spearheaded many protests on campus and that was the reason behind his dismissal
A missing letter of recommendation, an incorrect address and not including the Registrar's name while filing a case in Court. These are some of the reasons used by Madras University while trying to get a case filed by a student tossed out by the judge.
After attending one month of classes, Kiruba Mohan, a student from the Buddhism Department at Madras University was suddenly told that his admission had been canceled. He was given different reasons for his dismissal — from not submitting a required document to missing an alphabet in his address. He, however, believes he is being targetted because of his work as a founding member of the student group Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle. After running from pillar to post, Kiruba finally approached the Madras High Court to get justice.
In his petition, Mohan had said that authorities had told him and even the media that he had participated and spearheaded many protests on campus. He believes that all the other reasons that the administration is giving are just excuses to get him out of the campus. Mohan is convinced that it is because of his protests against social and University issues that his admission was canceled. After Mohan approached the Madras High Court, the bench directed the University to submit their counter-arguments to Mohan's petition.
Why Madras University 'withdrew' Mohan's admission
Some of the arguments that the University made in its affidavit are — one, that the Registrar, Dr R Srinivasan, hadn't been impleaded in the case and so that the case, was automatically 'invalid'. The University, in its rules states that all legal disputes have to be addressed to him and Mohan made the 'error' of only mentioning his Head of Department, besides TN's Higher Education Secretary and the Vice-Chancellor.
Secondly, they say that Mohan should have approached the Registrar to reconsider the decision instead of approaching the court. However, Mohan, both in his petition and while speaking to Edex claimed that he had approached every possible avenue to sort out the issue before going to court. "From the department head to other authorities, everything that was required from me, I did," he adds.
The Registrar also pointed out that though the order withdrawing his provisional admission was passed by the Head of Department, Dr M Venkatachalapathy and not by the Vice-Chancellor, in his petition, Mohan has not sought any action against the Head — instead attributing this document to the VC. "The order has not been passed by the Vice-Chancellor and has only been passed by the Head of Department. On this ground, the writ is liable to be dismissed," they argued.
Where's your eligibility certificate?
The other point that the University makes is that Mohan should have submitted his eligibility certificate, a point raised by Mohan himself in his petition. A University demands an eligibility certificate to determine whether a candidate had an equivalent degree from any other institution. However, since Mohan had also pursued his earlier Masters from the same University, he was not required to submit an eligibility certificate. However, it was this reason that the administration gave him while dismissing him from campus.
In their counter affidavit, the administration had said that Mohan needed an eligibility certificate because his undergraduate degree was a BE from Anna University. However, in their eligibility criteria, the administration says that 'Candidates who have passed any UG degree from the University of Madras or other Universities accepted by the Syndicate of this University as equivalent thereto' can be admitted. While some courses demand specific undergraduate degrees, other courses seem to accept degrees from any stream. Even the journalism course that Mohan pursued last year states that they prefer candidates with a Media Background and Experience of not less than three years but accept 'a Bachelor’s degree in any subject'. "It is true that the petitioner completed his MA from Madras University in Journalism but the eligibility requirements for MA Buddhism and MA Journalism are not the same," the administration stated in its affidavit.
"These days engineering students take up all kinds of courses for their Masters. Especially arts courses always have hundreds of engineering students applying. Including right now at Madras University, so many of my peers come from engineering backgrounds and are pursuing Masters in Arts subjects, so why am I being singled out?" Mohan asks. He says that he has been questioned about his 'intentions' by studying these subjects. "They want to know why I would move from engineering to journalism and now Buddhism. They think I have some hidden agenda," the student said.
Don't need one? Ok, where's your recommendation letter?
The administration also pointed out that Mohan had not submitted a recommendation letter from his previous Head of Department. They invoke a clause in their prospectus that states — Candidates who have undergone a Postgraduate Course at any of the University Departments will be eligible for applying another PG Course or MPhil Programme provided
(a) The candidate has no arrears in the previous Postgraduate Programme
(b) The Candidate Should not have violated the “University of Madras Students‟ Conduct Rules”
(c) The candidate should submit a recommendation letter from the Head of the Department where he/she has undergone the Postgraduate Course
They want to know why I would move from engineering to journalism and now Buddhism. They think I have some hidden agenda," Mohan said
Ironically, this list does not mention an eligibility certificate but it is mentioned in the prospectus that if candidates have passed their qualifying examination from other Universities they shall obtain the eligibility certificate from the University of Madras and submit the same to the Department at the time of admission to the programme of study. "If I had been informed that such a letter was required I would have submitted the same. No one asked me for the letter, if this was the problem I would have approached my HOD and submitted it by now," the Masters student said. The administration also claims that the student did not approach them first and instead went to the media to talk about his case but Mohan maintains that he kept all the authorities informed about the issue and had even received acknowledgments from the registrar and his HOD.
Now that the affidavit is in court, Mohan is waiting for a hearing to be held in court. He says he has been in court continuously for the last three days, "It all depends on what the court has to say. I feel the administration is already telling my classmates not to interact with me and I'm no more allowed on campus. Things are bad but I'm hoping the court will help me get my justice."
The Registrar and VC of Madras University could not be reached for comment. The story will be updated when they respond.