6 August, 2020

Blog

An Academic Colleague’s Voice For Justice To Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan

By Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan –

Dr Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan

Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan has always been a human rights lawyer legally fighting for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the vulnerable, and the underprivileged.  He was the Head of the Department of Law at the University of Jaffna until Jaffna University Council informed him on 9 November 2019 that he was not permitted to practice as a lawyer in Sri Lankan courts anymore. The Council, it seemed, without any re-evaluation, adopted the decision made by the University Grants Commission (UGC) losing its autonomy, an institution of higher education in Sri Lanka and the Council vested with the autonomy to reflect and decide on the matters of crucial importance concretely to the University and the country and abstractly to the preservation of democratic values. We suspect that the UGC might have been persuaded by the external elements to remove him from his peaceful human rights work.

Dr. Guruparan Kumaravadivel

Since he has established and the executive director of the Adayalam Center for Policy Research in Jaffna, which functions as a human rights organization, it might have irritated the enemies of human rights violations. Since September 2011, his holding a senior lecturer post and the headship of the Department of Law at the University of Jaffna was his strength in bolstering human rights in the country. 

There are departmental procedures to allow him to practice law. The Council should not be interfered with by anybody or any authority inside or outside in university matters. Nevertheless, it succumbed to the UGC confirming on 19 September 2019 of him being barred from the court practice. On 9 November 2019, the Jaffna University Council adopted the UGC decision. However, the Council had the power to fight against the UGC decision that it violates against the existing norms and practice that the university academics can do consultancy and community practice outside the institution like the academics in medical faculties as consultants in private hospitals and other academics in all other departments serving as consultants outside in private ventures and NGOs.

Further academic service or teaching without field experience is ridiculous, and the teachers and the students would become ‘book worms.’ There is a question whether the authority whether the country, the UGC, and the University want the university teachers and students to become like that. Now there are hues and cries about university graduates becoming unemployable and non-creative and non-critical. Real field experience is the surest way to make our teachers and students as constructive teachers and students.  The UGC and the government, for the last twenty years, have been wailing over this void state in the university system. We expect the real academic, administrative right, and autonomy from the Council to brave and brace enough to question back the academic and legal validity of the UGC decision rather than cowing down. 

We all know, including the dons of Jaffna University that he has been dealing with several high-level legal cases pending before the court. His service tried to make the perpetrators accountable for human rights violations against many civilians, specifically in the north and east of the country. As a result, he encounters many threats and intimidations against his legal fight for justice and fairness. It is an attempt at removing him from his battle for legitimate justice for crimes through the courts. 

There is a serious issue, the harassment of Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan. Our society never accepts the resignation from his academic position at the University. The Council also should not accept it. It should give him time and space to resolve his issue. Otherwise, it will be a terrible loss of the institution. He should withdraw it immediately. Our society appreciates him as a human rights defender. He is taken revenge for his peaceful and legitimate human rights work. The FUTA (Federation of University Teachers’ Association) should raise this matter with the UGC. The society demands the university council and the UGC remove all the restrictions against him so that he can constructively function teaching and practicing as a senior academic in law and as a senior lawyer for assisting victims of human rights violations in their pursuit of justice through court. 

*Dr. Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan, Senior Lecturer, Vavuniya Campus, University of Jaffna.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3
    8

    We understand that Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan has resigned his post as Senior Lecturer/ Head of the Department of Law at the University of Jaffna.

    It is cowardice on his part especially because he is a human rights lawyer and an activist and he must set an example and fight to the bitter end against all odds.

    Nevertheless good men should not keep silent.

    He has every right to practice as a lawyer,

    Human Right is a universal right and therefore all human rights and civil society organizations should jointly gather and fight until his human rights are restored.
    Sri

    • 2
      2

      srikrish,
      He resigned because the court is playing a dodging game with his case. It is not taking the case but only postponing. That is a technique to deny justice for him. If he go out of the ways, Deva’s home office, the university would criminalize his actions and put him in prison. Now he is free to fight from out side. He did not withdraw his case.

  • 7
    7

    It is ridiculous for universities to prevent their staff, especially doctors and lawyers to gain practical experience in their respective fields. In the case of Guruparn, he has been prevented for no good reason, In any case, no reason will be good enough to prevent the Head of the Department to obtain practical experience. With the practical experience, they will be able to quote case studies and the chapter and verse, where ever necessary. Does this mean Medical Professor’s surgeons and lecturers should not go into the operating theater to carry out operations or do private practice? Maybe with time, if an eminent surgeon is detailed to operate on a person, undesirable to the Government/politician, will the surgeon be prevented from doing his duty?

  • 7
    6

    I fully support the cause of Dr. Guruparan, that there should be no politically motivated obstruction to his legitimate resolve to take up human rights cases. But when a university is permitted to sink into mediocrity because of vested interests from within obstructing the appointment of quality staff and vice chancellors, the fate of the University becomes largely self-inflicted. (See https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Academic-Criteria-FINAL-30-Jul-Clean.pdf and https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jaffna-a-university-sinking-in-mediocrity-and-sectarianism/)
    Once people begin to realise this, they tend to become indifferent to issues at the University. In 2017 the University Science Teachers’ Association protested against the dropping of the North American academic Prof. Thiyagalingam’s application for the post of Vice Chancellor, over a minute delay in the receipt of his application, which was covered by the well-known postal rule. The coverage in Colombo Telegraph shows that the incumbent vice chancellor was instrumental in this along with the UGC. Despite council member Prof. Tharmaratnam providing the legal references, neither council member Miss. Abimanasingham PC, nor Dr. Guruparan who was closely associated with her, seemed able to throw light on the Postal Rule. Guruparan would have shown his case in a better light and attracted greater support had his activism spanned broader issues to pull Jaffna University out of its narrow ideological mire.
    There are other concerns too at the University. The obstruction to the screening of the award-winning Demons of Paradise in Jaffna was led by academics in the University. Attempts have also been made by senior academics to block the recruitment of academics with widely recognised credentials because of their criticism of Tamil narrow nationalism. I write this because Guruparan is a capable academic with qualities of leadership. Times are too uncertain to drown the few opportunities and resources we have in causes as futile as those of the fragmented Tamil nationalist camp.

    • 3
      0

      Dr. RH,

      “…neither council member Miss. Abimanasingham PC, nor Dr. Guruparan who was closely associated with her, seemed able to throw light on the Postal Rule.”

      I take it that Dr.G was not a member of the council, but was only an associate of Ms.A. If that is the case, isn’t it too much to expect him to insert himself into the issue simply because he was an associate of Ms.A ?

      On the issue at hand, if he was prevented from his HR work by the military, the Tamil political class has to take it up. There is a dearth of articulate young leaders in the war-torn areas, and if the few still there like Dr.G are prevented from HR activism under bogus claims, that may point to some sinister hands within the GoSL and military..

      • 2
        0

        Agnos
        Ms A has been mentioned.
        What makes one so sure that she was unable to express a view?

  • 8
    0

    “There is a serious issue, the harassment of Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan. Our society never accepts the resignation from his academic position at the University. The Council also should not accept it. It should give him time and space to resolve his issue. Otherwise, it will be a terrible loss of the institution. He should withdraw it immediately. Our society appreciates him as a human rights defender. He is taken revenge for his peaceful and legitimate human rights work. The FUTA (Federation of University Teachers’ Association) should raise this matter with the UGC. The society demands the university council and the UGC remove all the restrictions against him so that he can constructively function teaching and practicing as a senior academic in law and as a senior lawyer for assisting victims of human rights violations in their pursuit of justice through court. “

    I agree with you Dr Gnanaseelan. I am surprised – none of our politicians did not do anything on this matter.

    • 2
      0

      Anpu

      How are you?

      “I agree with you Dr Gnanaseelan. I am surprised – none of our politicians did not do anything on this matter.”

      You mean Sivajilingam, Adaikalam, Sritharan, Mavai, ….. Wimal Weerawansa, MR, NR, …. Dinesh, …………….. Champika, ….. Karuna Amman, Pillayan, Hakeem, …..
      Thank them for not involving themselves in this matter, else they would have made a pig’s breakfast in no time.

      • 2
        0

        NV,
        I am fine. Thank you. Hope you are keeping well.
        I was referring to Mr Sumanthiran, Mr Sampanthan. Not the ones you mentioned.

        • 1
          0

          Anpu

          “I was referring to Mr Sumanthiran, Mr Sampanthan. Not the ones you mentioned.”

          The state of Education and Educational establishment have been already politicised heavily and we need less interference and not more.

          FUTA should take up the issue with relevant authorities.

          Please leave Sumanthiran, Sampanthan Sivajilingam, Adaikalam, Sritharan, Mavai, ….. Wimal Weerawansa, MR, NR, …. Dinesh, …………….. Champika, ….. Karuna Amman, Pillayan, Hakeem, ….. Bandula Gunawardane, MR and Gota out of this.

          These men are likely to stir up the issue further to the extent we will forget the reason why this started in the first place.

      • 2
        1

        They are busy with manufacturing lies. They have no time for Guruparan. Why is it that Tamils are called upon to defend Guruparan, when there are enough Sinhala Professors practicing medicine/Surgery without a hazel. Why can’t they also rise up to the occasion?

        • 0
          2

          Be fair.
          Has Guruparan approached any?
          Guruparan himself has a close political ally whom you may know of.
          I fear that you may be unnecessarily embarrassing all concerned.

          • 0
            0

            “Has Guruparan approached any?”

            You mean somebody like Deva? I think Guruparan should stop this idiotic Human right cow dung and start to work for Deva and Slap Party, using his university letter heads.

            • 0
              0

              From each according to his intelligence.

              • 0
                0

                Sounds like disappointed not suggesting you?

                One time Lemon Puff Weera was sitting in Parliament, questioned Sheerani Bandaranayke, a Law PhD and fired her. You a Badiuddin graduate is teaching Guruparan what to do!
                The breeze hissing and leaving in ear, the sea wave showing their hands – Bye Bye, the covering clouds in the sky, may not be able to tell who is on the seat of the throne of Lankawe. But the monkeying around of winked termite came out of hole tell a lot about the new Kaliyuaka dawning in Lankawe.

                • 2
                  0

                  I will revise the text:
                  From each according to his lack of intelligence,
                  Will that happily cover you?
                  *
                  BTW
                  Do termites wink?

                  • 0
                    0

                    “Do termites wink”?
                    Why not, while lion winking to girls? Are dead Savams? I don’t think so. They are still alive too

                    • 0
                      0

                      So you say they do!
                      Fantastic!

  • 2
    3

    I don’t know the legality or otherwise of a lawyer working for a University to engage in court cases. It is common sense that one cannot two masters. University lecturer job is a full time, how then can he go to the courts and his clients brief?

    What happens if his appearance in the courts’ clashes with his schedule of lecturers? It is puerile to argue that practising in courts gives him practical experience. In that case, let him become a part-time lecturer. Many practising lawyers do engage themselves in part-time lecturing in the evenings.

    • 3
      1

      Thanga,
      Court dates are fixed months ahead and lectures can be rescheduled to suit.
      Although I do not buy the story about the importance court room experience, I will not object to private practice of Law lecturers, since medics mint money and engineers too earn a bit on the side.
      But there can be conflict of interest and prior permission will be desirable where litigation is against the institution or the state.
      The core issue here seems to be more about whether Dr G was singled out for punishment.
      *
      Personally, I would like to see university dons giving priority to teaching, training, supervision and assessment of students.

      • 4
        0

        SJ:
        //Personally, I would like to see university dons giving priority to teaching, training, supervision and assessment of students.//
        I take it this is just a sweeping general statement like “roses are red, violets are blue” and you don’t intend to imply, just in case an onlooker misunderstands, that Guruparan did not give the right level of priority to his teaching, training, supervision and assessment of students.
        +
        And I note your list of priorities for dons does not include research? Intentional or just slip? I ask because the pay settlement following the 100 day strike has research as a condition for part of the awarded salary.

        • 0
          2

          Sorry SAV
          Your nursery rhyme seems inappropriate.
          The comment was not personal and was a response to Thanga.
          It will be good to read it in that context together with the rest of the text.
          I named my top priorities, no more no less.
          What you make out of it comes under your freedom to imagine things.

        • 2
          0

          SAV,

          “…the pay settlement following the 100 day strike has research as a condition for part of the awarded salary.”

          How are they measuring research output, production and quality ?

          • 5
            0

            Agnos
            Research, sadly, is measured by volume of papers and number of citations.
            *
            Sustained effort in the last UGC to combat fraud including publication in predatory journals, plagiarism including self-plagiarism, multiple claims for the same work etc. was on the verge of bearing fruit amid protests by interested parties operating through various channels.
            Lobbyists had their way with the change in the composition of the UGC in December and the relevant UGC circular has been withdrawn.
            *
            We still have no way to evaluate outcome of research. What is assessed is output, that, along with award of points even for what one does routinely as a member of the academic community, determines the priorities of ambitious young academics.
            Had the UGC’s revised criteria been applied, we could have moved in sensible directions.
            Sad.

          • 1
            0

            Agnos: I do not know the details of how they measure. But the government’s intention — which I agree with — was to provide us with an incentive towards developing a culture of research in the university system. It is fairly easy to tell if someone is an active researcher or not. But not to a fine accuracy like A is a 2.4601 rated researcher and B is a 2.4602 researcher. This is not necessary. But this (that we can’t tell 2.4601 and 2.4602 apart, and that some busybodies try to do this) is often portrayed as a reason to actively discourage junior faculty from paying attention to research. This then sets the scene for some to advance their careers by scoring points — by publishing in pay to publish journals and running their own local journals, “international” conferences etc.

    • 3
      0

      How can Mr Symanthiran do two jobs- MP and practising law ? Double standard.

      • 0
        1

        Anpu
        Many MPs have been lawyers in the early decades of the Parliament.
        Certain categories of government servants had the right to context elections.
        Being an MP is not quite a job or a career (although these is a pension attached to it since late 1960s).
        One however will need the employer’s consent to serve as MP if he/she desires to retain the job. Lawyers are mostly self-employed except for employees of law firms.

        • 1
          1

          Certain categories of government servants had the right to context elections.

          Could you give me the provision of that in Constitution? Or is that in public service ordinance or in Election Act 1981?
          I want to find out who the “Certain Category” is?

          • 0
            0

            None but you can say “who” a category is.

            • 0
              0

              ” I want to find out who the “Certain Category” is?

              I revise my wording.
              I want to find out who are those Certain categories of government servants had the right to context elections.
              (You are a context Chaff my dummy friend. )

              I beg you, please, kindly, give me the answer you cheater.

      • 2
        1

        Anpu

        “How can Mr Symanthiran do two jobs- MP and practising law ? Double standard.”

        Sumanthiran does it all the time.

    • 2
      2

      Thanga you don’t work for Tamils but to Sumanthiran. You tried hard to get CV out, working for Sumanthiran and now it is not just Sumanthiran, even ITAK seems to be out. Your puny brain not is able to understand this happened to only a Tamil by a Sinhala Buddhist Appe Aanduva. Why you all tearing your mouth shouting “Tamils’ freedom” while you develop this third grade argument? If you want to accept Sinhala government’s racism why didn’t you stay in Lankawe, study Singalam and become a Negombo Tamil?

      • 2
        0

        “…study Singalam and become a Negombo Tamil?”
        Is it bad to be a Negombo Tamil?

        • 0
          0

          Sorry man; I forgot.

          You are there!

          None can match washing Deva.

          • 0
            0

            Is it bad to be a Negombo Tamil?

            • 0
              1

              I explained. Your limitation the Badiyudeen PhD.
              Axe handle may have problem understanding the heinous act of acting against its own. But I see in you the “Bird of a feather flock together” in rescuing Negombo Tamils. Hopefully got it!

              • 0
                0

                Is it bad to be a Negombo Tamil?
                Yes or no?

    • 1
      2

      Thanga,
      Saravanabhvan, Ex Jaffna MP, ITAK, said its a shame for everybody for what happened to Guruparan.

      Do you have any message to Saravanabhavan?

  • 0
    2

    1.
    The role of a University Council seems misunderstood by the author.
    The Council is responsible to the UGC and accepts UGC rulings and instructions, unless views to the contrary are raised in the Council.
    There are ways to raise matters in the Council. A party could act through usual channels. If urgent, one could appeal to the VC (or Competent Authority here). At times, a Council member takes it upon himself to raise the matter in one of several ways. But, unless a matter is brought up formally, it cannot be discussed. I can assure CT readers that Dr Guruparan knows procedure and there are several among Council members, including ex-officio members, who would present his plea, even if they disagree with it.
    I wonder if there was opportunity to discuss further the matter in the Council, which adopted the UGC decision on 9th November 2019. But all UGC nominees to the Council were made to resign in mid-December with no Council meetings for a while. Had even a protest been lodged formally to the UGC via the Council, and the Council turned a blind eye, there is cause to complain. I would thank the author to educate me on this aspect.

  • 0
    1

    2
    As for field experience, I wonder if any Faculty/Department of Law gives opportunity for law students to gain appropriate experience. (It happens in Engineering and Medicine in different ways.)
    As for claims about the right persons being kept out, I have serious doubts.
    The University takes selection seriously and whenever doubt is raised about the validity of a process, the Council reviews the matter. The UoJ Council cannot be a 24/7 policeman, but has acted properly and not yielded even to the most intense lobbying and vigorous protest by individuals. I cannot go into further detail without permission from the institution.
    Regarding eligibility for election to the post of a Vice Chancellor, I have seen some of the ugliest campaigns of character assassination against certain candidates, and individuals who did not ‘toe the line’. Those who played dirty had their way to keep out the overwhelming preference of the Council by indulging in a highly politicized slander campaign.
    *
    Rather than waste time on those fruitless personalized arguments, I will just make a point that makes the case for the UoJ Council.
    Had the Council accepted an application that was late by a few days, the UoJ could have been hauled before a Court of Law by not just any of the applicants bu even an interested citizen.

    • 1
      0

      That cannot be a serious reason. The Postal Rule is part of international law and was endorsed in the Supreme Court by Justice Basnayake. It is part of the law of the land. It is interesting that SJ thinks that the University is shy of going to court. It does not cost the council members anything. In an act of blatant abuse, where Miss. Ravivathani was rejected for the position of lecturer in Management, she went to the Supreme Court, which as far as I know has not given its judgment yet. It cost Ravivathani a fortune she could hardly afford, besides enormous time and anxiety. As SJ knows no council member had to pay a second of their time or a cent of their money. It is abuse of power at public expense.

      • 5
        0

        The postal rule applies only if there is no explicit statement about the deadline in the advertisement. I doubt if any legal officer consulted on the objections raised even suggested anything in support of accepting a late application.
        If amateur ‘experts’ of law were so sure, why did they not initiate litigation as they boldly threatened to do? They only made lame excuses.
        *
        Please do not put words into my mouth by claiming “It is interesting that SJ thinks that the University is shy of going to court.”
        The point I made was that the University would have been humiliated by doing something incorrect in law.
        *
        How is RH so sure that Ms R was wronged? Did she appeal to the USB?
        IF there was injustice and the Council ignored it, it is bad, that is if attention was drawn to the matter and the Council ignored it. As the matter is under litigation, let us await the outcome.
        But I wonder how a VC handpicked by a team of men of character to bypass the most eligible candidate ‘slipped’ in this matter at its various stages.
        *
        What’s the purpose of RH’s cheap broadside about the time and money of Council Members?

        • 0
          0

          ” The postal rule applies only if there is no explicit statement about the deadline in the advertisement.”

          Please don’t misunderstand the postal law. It only governs explicitly stated closing date. A legal action is possible for applicant if legal contracts exits, implied or stated explicitly. Postal law came in only to cover Her Majesty’s Services’ legal obligation. Postal service is royal property. Nobody can sue Her Majesty for anything. So neither party can benefit from the postal delay; period! The law tells Her Majesty’s service never face delays, so advertiser must accept the delivery as happened within time. Private agreement may exempt of the applicability. University cannot toss an application when it hates a person because he/she was a diaspora. In the discussion that went earlier on this matter in CT, it is explicitly and implied stated that he was not a preferred candidate because he was diaspora. So Dr. Thiagalingam stand entitled to sue UOJ for years to come. Probably there might be some agreement on these between US and Lankawe to deal this through US courts also. “If amateur ‘experts’ of law were so sure, why did they not initiate litigation as they boldly threatened to do?” This is a kind of road rowdies’ waffling during brawls, not a statement to count in court of law or debate of that nature.

          • 2
            0

            Yawn……

  • 4
    2

    Dr Hoole:
    // Guruparan would have shown his case in a better light and attracted greater support//
    I disagree. Permission to practice which he had been granted was withdrawn on the prompt of the military, and the UGC and the UofJ Council failed in protecting/defending the university system (former) and UofJ (latter). This is unfair to him (in the short term) and not good for the university (in the long term). That is all there is to it. “If only he had done somethingsomethingsomething else” is irrelevant.

    • 1
      3

      A Rapist Army Official is coming as the Governor of North. Ms Charles is going out. Another Rapist Army Official would come as VC too. Things will be short and sweet, there after.

  • 2
    1

    They are busy with manufacturing lies. They have no time for Guruparan. Why is it that Tamils are called upon to defend Guruparan, when there are enough Sinhala Professors practicing medicine/Surgery without a hazel. Why can’t they also rise up to the occasion?

  • 0
    0

    Practicing Lawyers have taught at the University as well as at Law college,from time immemorial.
    In this case it is an Academic who seeks to practice as a Lawyer.
    It appears that the UGC does not believe that What is sauce for the Goose is sauce for the gander.

    This delaying tactic to put off the case filed by Dr.K.Guruparan is not something new.
    The Kodeeswaran case, when the Privy Council asked the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutional issue is a case in point. The SC dragged its feet until a new govt: was ushered in 1970 and out went the Soulbury constitution and the safeguard for the minorities!

  • 2
    0

    A little bird told me that the Council of the UoJ at its last meeting unanimously resolved to request Dr.Guruparan to withdraw his resignation letter.
    Any rude comments?

    • 2
      0

      “Little bird” told you? It is in mutalvannews — a paper that publishes names of candidates for jobs at the university even before the deadline is over! Amazing standards U of J Council can maintain in that institution.

  • 2
    0

    Congratulations for being the first.
    Strange that this stale bit of news drew the attention of none here commenting on the subject.
    *
    Thanks for introducing muthalvannews.com to me. Never heard of it before, seems much like the Jaffna print media.
    *
    Just being curious: Do people still do a running commentary on Council proceedings as some did 3+ years ago?

    • 2
      0

      The Council decision was made on the 25th, so most people commenting here would not have known that. But the decision is also just to request him to withdraw the resignation — neither a solution to the issue nor a critical appraisal of the incompetence of the previous council.

      • 0
        0

        Most people who comment are quick on the draw.
        Council resolutions can only be on matters presented to the Council.

  • 1
    0

    If the Council of the UOJ had resolved unanimously to request Dr. Guruparan to withdraw his resignation does it follow that
    a] His case would be called up for hearing at the next earliest date?
    b] The military would condescendingly ask the UGC to speak to members of the Council of the UOJ AND remove the ban on his practice at the BAR..in which event Dr.G. could withdraw the case if and when the case comes up in court?

    This whole saga is a truly a shameful vignette of almost superhuman arrogance of taffishness and twittishness of University governance.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.