Disciplinary action revoked against professor who was suspended for criticising right-wing politics during an online class

News Desk: After facing flak for suspending a professor for criticising right-wing politics during an online class, the Central University of Kerala has revoked the ‘disciplinary action’ taken against the faculty member. On May 17, Gilbert Sebastian, an assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Politics, was suspended after he termed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of the BJP, proto-fascist during an online class on ‘Fascism and Nazism.’ On June 10, the University revoke the suspension, albeit with a warning — not to “repeat such digressed utterances, which may cause disharmony in the classroom.”

Vice-Chancellor H Venkateshwarlu had suspended Gilbert Sebastian following the complaints filed by Vinod Karuvarakund, a member of the national monitoring committee on education under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and the RSS. During the online lecture on ‘Fascism and Nazism’ on April 19, Gilbert had termed RSS as a proto-fascist organisation (meaning, a political movement tending towards fascism). He had also posed some questions to the students, including ‘how is India under Narendra Modi?’ While the discussions were held as part of the syllabus on the paper ‘Conflict and Theories in Political Science’, the complaint alleged that Gilbert was “indoctrinating students by spewing hatred and poison against the Narendra Modi government.”

The revocation of the suspension came into effect on June 10. According to sources, the inquiry committee and Vice-Chancellor of the university decided to revoke the suspension due to the mounting pressure and criticisms from various quarters. While revoking the suspension, the university issued the warning and said that it will take strict action if “such violations” are repeated.

Professor Gilbert Sebastian’s suspension had drawn severe criticisms from the academic community and Members of Parliament from Kerala. Many Kerala MPs of the Congress and CPI(M) had written to Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal, calling the move a blatant violation of academic freedom, and had demanded the suspension be revoked. Student communities from various universities from Kerala and other states, too, had expressed solidarity with the suspended professor.

TNM had also reported earlier how in the past, too, Gilbert had been targeted by the right-wing forces on campus. Since 2015, two salary increments were withheld twice (till retirement) for being critical of the dismissal of another faculty member in the university.

The Central University of Kerala, too, had drawn flak in the past for its blatant action against students and faculties who have criticised right-wing groups or the university administration.