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Arbitrary, vindictive? There is no ground for disciplinary action against Saibaba: DUTA

Counterview Desk

Objecting to the termination of top human rights leader Dr GN Saibaba's services, the DelhiUniversity Teachers' Association (DUTA), in a representation Prof PC Joshi, acting vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, even as appealing to review disciplinary action against him, has said that the Ram Lal Anand College, where he serves as associate professor, or its Governing Gody, has "never made out a case for disciplinary action" independent of the criminal case filed against him.
Drawing a parallel, the letter, signed by DUTA president Rajib Ray, cites the case of Dr SAR Geelani, associate professor, Zakir Husain College (E), Delhi University, who was an accused in the Parliament attack case in 2001." Though Dr Geelani was "suspended after his arrested in the Parliament attack case", his services "were not terminated despite conviction and award of death penalty by the Trial Court." In fact, Dr Geelani "remained under suspension and was reinstated upon his acquittal by the High Court."

Excerpts:

As you may be aware, our colleague Dr GN Saibaba (assistant professor, Department of English, Ram Lal Anand College [RLA], University of Delhi), wa arrested in the year 2014 by the Maharashtra Police and was kept in Nagpur Central Jail as under trial prisoner for 14 months. Later, he got bail from Mumbai High Court and also from the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, in March 2017, he was given life sentence by Gadchiroli Sessions Court and sent to Nagpur Central Jail. Dr Saibaba is completely paralysed with 95% physical disability from childhood andbound to a wheelchair.
Thereafter, his appeal against the judgment and sentence has been admitted in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, and the date for hearing is awaited. Dr Saibaba's wife, AS Vasantha, had submitted a representation to the DUTA stating that there is a very strong likelihood that the High Court acquits Dr Saibaba given the flimsiness of the charges and the nature of the evidence against him. DUTA had attached this representation in its appeal to the then Vice Chancellor dated July 3, 2018. 
A copy of the letter dated September14, 2017 submitted to the principal of RLA in this regard by the RLA Staff Association was also attached to our appeal.
In the meantime, the College Governing Body had constituted a four-member enquiry committee from within the Governing Body, and began proceedings towards terminating Dr Saibaba’s services. Much correspondence was exchanged between Vasantha and the RLA College.
On June 26, 2019, deputy registrar SK Dogra, wrote to the chairman, Governing Body, RLA College, via letter no CS-SDC/149/2019/724 as follows:
“I am directed to inform you that as per the advice of the Legal Council of the University of Delhi on the subject cited above, the College is requested to send another show cause notice to the charged teacher Dr Saibaba for the quantum of punishment to be imposed by the Governing Body of the College."
In the last letter written by Vasantha to RLA College dated November 28, 2020, she had explained that due to Covid lockdown jail visits to Dr Saibaba were extremely restricted, as a result of which, and also because of his ill-health, no instructions could be taken from him regarding response to the last show cause notice. No reply to this letter was received by Vasantha from the RLA College.
On April 1, 2021, Vasantha received a memorandum and a letter addressed to Dr Saibaba dated March 31, 2021 from the principal, RLA College, stating that Dr Saibaba’s services had been terminated wef March 31, 2021.
This letter came as a shock since the decision of termination seems to have been taken without even waiting for the reply of Dr Saibaba to the show cause notice served on him by the college on the instruction of the University conveyed vide letter dated June 26, 2019.
If the University has approved of the decision of the Governing Body, it seems to be in contradiction to its own explicit instruction of issuing fresh show cause notice to Dr Saibaba. Once the show cause was issued, the college should have waited for the reply before taking adverse action in the matter.
Dr Saibaba's appeal before the High Court has been admitted and listed for hearing, the matter is sub judice
The decision to terminate his services without waiting for his reply, when he is unable to respond because of prison lockdown conditions and extreme ill-health (that includes testing positive for Covid along with other life-threatening ailments) seems arbitrary, vindictive and against the principles of natural justice.
We wish to reiterate that since Dr Saibaba's appeal before the High Court has been admitted and listed for hearing, the matter is sub judice and the original proceedings are continuing, the case against him cannot be regarded as final until all appellate remedies are exhausted. We, therefore, request you once again to review and withdraw any action taken against Dr Saibaba and not to take any further action against him until his appeal is heard and decided.
It is pertinent to note that at the time of his initial suspension, and even subsequently, the RLA College or its Governing Body never made out a case for disciplinary action against Dr Saibaba independent of the criminal case filed by Maharashtra Police against him. Throughout the pendency of the case against him as well as the time that he was under incarceration as an under trial or on bail, the college did not have any case of disciplinary action against him.
Please also note that in case of Dr SAR Geelani, associate professor, Zakir Husain College (E), Delhi University, who was an accused in the Parliament attack case in 2001, Dr Geelani was suspended after his arrested in the Parliament attack case and his services were not terminated despite conviction and award of death penalty by the Trial Court. He remained under suspension and was reinstated upon his acquittal by the High Court. 
It is submitted that, similarly, any action against Dr Saibaba should await the final decision of the Hon’ble High Court in the matter of his appeal.

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