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Restrictions on Academic Freedom – Cancellation of lecture at IIT Bombay


The cancellation of Professor Ganesh Devy's lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay on January 30th, 2024, without explanation has raised concerns regarding academic freedom and freedom of expression. As chairman of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India and a renowned activist, Professor Devy's scheduled talk on "The Crisis Within: On Knowledge and Education in India" aimed to address pressing issues within educational institutions, such as inadequate infrastructure, funding, and autonomy. The abrupt cancellation, attributed to "unforeseen circumstances" according to the institute, has garnered widespread media attention and sparked questions about the reasons behind the decision.

In light of India's constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a), coupled with international obligations to uphold these rights, the incident underscores a concerning trend of diminishing compliance with fundamental freedoms. The curtailment of academic discourse and expression is antithetical to the principles of democratic governance and the role of human rights defenders in safeguarding peaceful dissent. HRDA filed an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to exercise its statutory powers, including the ability to intervene suo moto, to address this issue promptly and impartially

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