It concludes that it affected the rights of third parties by identifying the university community with a political postulate
MADRID, 25 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The Supreme Court has confirmed the nullity of the resolution of the Senate of the University of Barcelona, of October 21, 2019, which approved the "Joint Manifesto of the Catalan universities in rejection of the sentences of the Catalan political prisoners and the judicialization of political life".
In a sentence, collected by Europa Press, the magistrates have concluded that the University Senate cannot adopt agreements "that are taken as the will of the University and that refer to questions of a political or ideological nature, typical of the social and political debate, unrelated to the object and functions of the University and that divide the citizenry".
Thus, the Fourth Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber has dismissed the appeal filed by the University of Barcelona against the ruling of the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of Catalonia, which confirmed the one issued by a court of the Contentious-Administrative Court of Barcelona in relation to this matter.
Legal sources have indicated to Europa Press that it is the first time that the Supreme Court has ruled on the actions of the Senate of a public university in this regard, but they specify that on previous occasions it had spoken about private study centers.
In 17 pages, the magistrates have reviewed the proven facts, in which it is stated that the Senate of the University of Barcelona --in its extraordinary meeting of October 21, 2019-- approved said manifesto, which was later published on the website of University and in various media.
That agreement was appealed by some professors -one of them was a member of the Senate- and students of that university. A Barcelona Contentious-Administrative Court upheld the claim, considering that said agreement was not protected by university autonomy, and noted that the principles of ideological and political neutrality are required of all Administrations.
Said court also recalled that public institutions do not have freedom of expression, as the Constitutional Court has declared, and the appellant university is an institutional Administration.
The University of Barcelona took the case before the TSJ of Catalonia, which confirmed the court ruling. He understood that an action on behalf of the University was not in accordance with the Law, in order to publicly express an opinion on a matter that did not fit within the framework of its functions.
Now, the Supreme Court has stressed that the University Senate is a governing body of an Administration and that it cannot perform more functions than those attributed by a regulation. The High Court has also indicated that if, when exercising its government functions, the University Senate adopts agreements on issues unrelated to the purposes and functions of the University and the interests of the community that integrates it, "an eventual deviation from can".
"This excess of the content of university autonomy will also violate the principle of objectivity or neutrality that can be expected from any Administration if the University Senate adopts agreements of ideological or political significance and on issues that divide the citizenry", they have indicated the magistrates.
Thus, the court has stated that an excess of this nature "apart from not having coverage in the content of university autonomy and infringing the principle of neutrality, affects the fundamental rights and freedoms of third parties by identifying all of the university community with a political or ideological postulate".
"The effect is that the ideological freedom of the members of that university community is violated and not only of the members of the University Senate, which would affect, for example, academic freedom, the university education that students expect to receive in coherence with the aims of the University and that it is their right", he specified.
In the resolution, for which magistrate José Luis Requero has been a speaker, the Supreme Court has explained that the constitutionally guaranteed university autonomy "allows the University to be a place of free debate on academic or scientific issues, as well as those of social relevance and even, with the appropriate form or format, even for political debate, all of which is admissible and desirable if it is exercised from institutional loyalty, that is, to its ends".
However, he has pointed out that "this does not happen when a government body, now the University Senate, adopts agreements presented as the will of the University, formally taking sides in issues that divide society, that are of foreign political or ideological relevance for the purposes of the University.