Calcutta High Court orders in-person presence of IIT Kharagpur chief in Faizan Ahmed case

Director V.K. Tewari should have come forward in the interest of the students and the institution, says Justice Mantha

Subhankar Chowdhury, Tapas Ghosh Kolkata Published 07.12.22, 08:18 AM
IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari

IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari File picture

The high court on Tuesday struck down an appeal by lawyers representing IIT Kharagpur that the institute’s director be excused from making an in-person appearance in the court in connection with a case related to the death of a student on the campus.

“The IIT director has to appear before the court on January 24. Is he above the law? Your director has sought to mislead the court. It appears to be suppression of facts. Whatever your director has done, amounts to misguiding the court. The court will do whatever needs to be done,” Justice Rajasekhar Mantha of the court told the institute’s lawyers.


“The court does not assemble only to deal with your director. The court has other things to do.”

The lawyers appearing for the IIT pleaded with the judge that the news media be instructed to not publish details of Tuesday’s proceedings because that would, they said, tarnish the reputation of the institute and affect the international recruitment process there.

Justice Mantha said: “The director should have kept that in mind. He should have come forward in the interest of the students and the institution. Instead of doing that, he has sought to make light of the judicial process. Why does the court have to call him? I will not listen to anything. He has to come and present his version. He is not above anything.”

When The Telegraph contacted R.N. Majumder, one of the two lawyers representing IIT Kharagpur, he said: “I won’t comment as the matter is sub judice.”

The high court had last week directed the IIT Kharagpur director, V.K. Tiwari, to appear in the court on December 20 after expressing dissatisfaction over the report he had submitted a week before on the steps the institution had taken in regard to what appeared to the court as a clear case of “ragging”.

A hearing was held on Tuesday following a plea by the lawyers representing the family of the deceased student that the director’s date of appearance be brought forward because Justice Mantha would sit on the Andaman circuit bench of the court from next week.

During the hearing, the lawyers representing IIT Kharagpur submitted that since they would file another affidavit, the court should take a fresh call after going through the affidavit on whether there was a need for the director’s physical appearance. The court granted the prayer for submitting another affidavit but did not accept the prayer to excuse the director from making an in-person appearance.

The physical appearance has been rescheduled for January 24.

The IIT’s lawyers submitted that once the director appeared in the court in the presence of media persons, the proceedings would be reported, leading to a dent in the reputation of the institute.

The lawyers also proposed that the director be allowed to make a virtual appearance. But that prayer was rejected, too.

Ranajit Chatterjee, one of the lawyers representing the family of the deceased student, Faizan Ahmed, said the judge accused the director of misleading the court after going through the report the director had filed on November 22 in the form of an affidavit.

“The director in his report did not name the students involved in ragging despite being told by the court. The court ordered the director to file a report stating the steps it had taken — based on the Supreme Court’s guidelines — in regard to an ‘assimilation programme’ that Faizan’s family had termed as ragging. But the report did not say anything on the steps they were supposed to take based on the guidelines of the apex court,” said Chatterjee.

Faizan, a third-year student of mechanical engineering, was found dead in a hostel room on October 14.

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