Police in university campus: Legal angle

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The whole nation is burning over the issue of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act enacted by the government. The country is divided into two groups i.e. the people who oppose it and the people who support it.

The said Act aims to amend the concept of illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian immigrants who have resided without documentation in India. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years.

The normal age criteria for naturalization have been 12 years of residency so far. Now here the bone of contention is that Muslims were not included in this classification. The government states that the Act seeks to protect the minority groups that have come escaping persecution in Muslim-majority nations.

Dissent forms the basic part of any democracy. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution defines India to be a secular nation and according to some section of the society CAA violates the concept of secularism. Following all this, violence and protests have erupted in many parts of the country.

This time the country has also seen strong protests in various university campuses. One such was done in Jamia Milia Islamia University campus which was aggravated to a level where police intervention ensued. 

Delhi’s Jamia campus remained the centre of agitation by students against the Citizenship Act, which was amended by Parliament passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill. It was objected by university students as discriminatory and divisive.

The students of JMI protested in this regard. In such demonstrations, the high intensity of protests and violence emerged from fear and anger. In the protest called by JMI students, people from outside the campus joined, buses were destroyed, police lathi-charged students and lobbied tear gas into the university library, and students from other universities marched in the city.

Many people in hospitals, including police, JMI students, and Jamia Nagar residents were injured. The police entered the university campus when the protests became violent and outsiders created a raucous.

Right to protest in campus

Campus demonstration or student protest is a form of student activism taking in the university campus. The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in the Indian Constitution under Article 19(1) (a) and Article 19(1) (b) which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, and right of people to assemble peacefully without arms, respectively.

There is no law prohibiting protests in university campus but it is evident that protests should not go beyond limits and disturb the law and order situation. No person is entitled to take law in their own hands and no one is allowed to damage the public property.

Justice Bhagwati said in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, “If democracy means people’s government, it is clear that every person must have the right to participate in the democratic process. Students in all colleges and universities be it public or private, have right to express their dissent in a lawful manner.

Does police need permission of University officials to enter campus?

The 2016 recommendations on the safety of students on the campus, the University Grant Commission do not address any limits on the entry of police into a university campus.

According to a Supreme Court lawyer Atul Kumar, it is irrelevant even if a university frames a law that forbids police from accessing the campus without authorization. The CrPC will take precedence over any other rule.

The Criminal Procedure Code provides police with or without a warrant from a magistrate with detailed powers of arrest. Section 41 of the CrPC typically authorizes police to make arrests. Section 46 of the CrPC allows police to use force to arrest a person who resists police action by force.

Sections 47 and 48 of the CrPC empower police officers to “pursue such person into any place in India” who the police have reason to believe the person has entered or is hiding anywhere.

Myth v. Reality

It is a fact that there is no legislation in the country which prohibits cops from entering anywhere when the law and order situation is disturbed. Though police generally doesn’t enters in university campuses but there’s no such law of the land like that.

In the recent protests, in the universities campuses apart from college students some outsiders were also present and in reality these outsiders provoked violence.

Things to keep in mind while protesting

The time right now in the country is very crucial. The situation is very sensitive and the political and emotional sentiments of the people have taken control. It becomes requisite to understand that in such situations, protests should not become violent. For every individual it is important to work according to their prudence and should not get carried away by peoples’ opinion.

People should try to maintain law and order

In a democratic country, everyone has their freedom of expression and opinion. The use of this should be done in a proper and legal way. For the sake of law, one should express their opposition but in a peaceful manner. While doing public demonstrations, people should be cautious and should follow the protocol of public authorities.

Be creative to make more impact and not violent

The change in the society will only come when it will impact the minds of people. Know your legal rights while protesting and abide by the law. Bring out innovation in your protest rather than violence.

Cooperation with authorities

People these days get agitated when they see interference of public authorities in peoples’ movement. One should keep in mind that whenever such protests are organized their presence cannot be denied so instead of opposing them, we should cooperate with their regulations.

Carry things for your protection

Very sensitive situations might lead to stone-pelting and tear gas attack from police. Just to protect yourself you should carry things like eye-mask and goggles.

Conclusion

For past some days, everyone is aware of the dreadful situation our country is facing because of violent protests. It is not just the duty of the government to reach to an amicable situation but every individual should take action which will not harm the law and order situation.

The youth should make the right use of their education and the public authorities should make sure that the fundamental rights are ensured to every student protesting in university campus.

Author: Muskaan Jain from NLU, Odisha.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

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