Amidst a raging controversy over a ban on a student e-zine by St Stephen's college, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday attended a graduation ceremony at the institute, even as a section of students had urged him to turn down the invite "in support for freedom of speech".
Devansh Mehta - the editor and co-founder of 'St Stephen's Weekly' e-zine - was suspended from the college on disciplinary grounds after he published an interview allegedly without seeking clearance from the principal on its content. He was also stripped off a good conduct award which he was to receive on Saturday from Kejriwal.
Delhi High court, however, stayed his suspension from the college on Friday allowing him to attend the graduation ceremony. The students of the college and alumni had come out in his support and they had sent a petition to Kejriwal urging him to turn down the invitation to be the chief guest at the ceremony.
The Delhi Chief minister on Saturday attended the ceremony, which was made out of bounds for the media.
According to the students, Kejriwal asked them to focus on education but at the same time not to take life too seriously and enjoy it to the fullest. He did not broach on the controversy, they said.
Mehta said he was happy to be at the convocation and he had no resentment against either the principal or anyone else. "He (Kejriwal) has always stood for freedom of speech and truth....my fellow students had written to him seeking his support by turning down the invitation but he chose to come. We respect the decision..I am happy to be finally attending the ceremony," the student said.
Manisha Mehta, his mother, said, "After the entire controversy it's a big relief to see him dressed up in the graduation robe today."
Fellow students were also satisfied that Devansh could attend the ceremony due to the court's intervention. "Devansh has got a fair judgement. Freedom of speech has been respected by the law. Why a fuss now whether Kejriwal came or not," said one of them.
The petition sent to Kejriwal earlier this week read, "The way our college authorities have dealt with such displays a clear curtailment of our freedom of speech. We are not contesting the fact that college authorities do have a say in shaping the ultimate decision taken on a particular issue. What we want is a space for dialogue wherein we have an equal say that is duly considered. We request you again, to refuse the invitation to attend the Convocation ceremony at St Stephen's College to help us assert our stance against an oppressive administrative system."