DU makes permission mandatory for student protests inside campus. Here's what student groups have to say about it

Students organisations have slammed the decision by DU, calling it unconstitutional and contradictory, and claiming that the varsity is attempting to curb democracy on campus
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

Delhi University (DU) has introduced a permission system for students who wish to protest inside the campus. While earlier, the students had to intimate the administration about their plans for a protest, a notice issued by the Proctor's office on April 22, Friday, has now made it mandatory for the organisers to furnish a list of details in order to get permission from the authorities for a protest.

"Prior intimation of gathering/protest/demonstration anywhere in the University is mandatory. Although protests/demonstrations are the legal right of every individual, YET prior permission from the Proctor's Office is mandatory," reads the notice.

Organisers of protests have been asked to submit five personal details and five details of the intended programme at least 24 hours before the event. Personal details of the students include course name, department and contact details. The list of speakers, number of participants, logistics in use, the expected number of participants and the duration and nature of the programme will have to be detailed as well.

While the Delhi University Students' Union (DUSU) has not yet released an official statement, DUSU Secretary, Ashish Lamba tells Edexlive that the move is absolutely unconstitutional. "The notice itself says that protesting is the constitutional right of the students. But this notice violates that very constitutional right. If we want to raise our voice against this notice, we will have to seek permission from the Proctor's office. Is it likely that they will give us such permission? This is the university administration trying to enforce arbitrary rules to control the students," says Ashish, adding that the DUSU will speak with the Proctor and the authorities in-charge to voice their concerns.

The All India Students' Association (AISA) issued a statement condemning the notice, alleging that it curbs campus democracy. "Campus democracy has flourished for years without having any such formalities of the administration and this notice is a desperate and 'YET', a sad attempt at curbing it," said the student organisation. 

It also points out the use of the word 'permission' instead of 'intimation' and questions why the administration has taken it upon itself to decide whether the students can protest an issue or not. The statement also adds that collecting course details of students is a form of increased profiling and surveillance by the administration. The student organisation also goes on to add that they will "never" ask for the administration's permission to protest inside their own campus and has demanded that the notice be rolled back.

Another student organisation, the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), calls out the contradiction between the use of the words 'intimation' and 'permission' in the first two lines of the notice, and calls it disturbing. "The contents of the notice dated 22.04.2022 are very disturbing and it begins with making the intimation for the gathering/protest/demonstration mandatory. However, in the next sentence, it substitutes the word ‘intimation’ for ‘permission’. It says that prior permission is required for organising the protests. There is a big difference between intimation and permission, and the wording of the notice is in itself contradictory," said the KYS. They have demanded that the Proctor's office not only withdraws the notice but also apologise to the students for issuing an "anti-democratic notice".

On April 25, these student organisations submitted a memorandum to the Delhi University's Dean of Student Welfare, asserting that students will not be asking the authorities for permission to protest. They also say that the system introduced is a method to curtail the students' freedom to stage political protests inside the campus. "This move will only discourage students from participating in essential democratic activities due to the fear of their information being recorded," read the memorandum.

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