Dr Neeraj Hatekar, an economics professor, was suspended on January 4 after he went public against Vice Chancellor Rajan Welukar and blamed him for the downslide in the university’s academic status, at a press conference last month.
The university claimed he was being suspended for “misconduct and moral turpitude.”
Students allege that Dr Hatekar, who is widely respected as a teacher of game theory and microeconomics, was punished without being given a chance to defend himself.
Last week, they skipped classes and shouted slogans outside the university’s office, holding placards. The protests have gone online with the students setting up a Facebook page ‘Save the Mumbai University’ to urge more people to join in.
Dr Hatekar has petitioned the Bombay High Court against the suspension order, calling it arbitrary and illegal.
He told NDTV, “Dissent and debate is not encouraged at the University. A politically-backed kitchen cabinet runs Mumbai University. When Mr Welukar joined, the university was ranked 96, now it is 150.”
The university had defended its action. “The suspension is justified as professor Hatekar maligned the university,” said Registrar RA Khan. “Why didn’t he approach us with these issues in the past three years?”