Blacklisted’ US University Fumes, To Sue Air India


California-based Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) has now decided to file a defamation claim against Air India for spreading “false information” about the institution.

HYDERABAD – Taking the legal battle to India’s official carrier Air India, the California-based Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) has now decided to file a defamation claim against the airline for spreading “false information” about the institution. In an e-mail interaction with TOI on January 4, president of the varsity Peter Hsieh said: “We are absolutely looking into taking legal action, which would include a defamation claim due to Air India’s outrageous conduct and the permanent and irreparable damage to NPU’s reputation”. He, however, did not specify where the “claim” will be filed -in the US or in India.

Previously, the NPU management had dashed off a strongly-worded ‘cease-and-desist’ letter to Air India accusing it of “tortious conduct” and unjustifiably “barring NPU students from travelling” to the US. It also sought an immediate apology and retraction of its statement about the university being blacklisted. The charges were vehemently denied by the airline operator.

NPU is one the two universities (the other being Silicon Valley University) currently caught in a controversy with several Indian students admitted by them being “discouraged” from flying to the US or being deported from their port of entry – which include Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

While SVU too is contemplating similar action, the management is yet to take a final decision on the same. In an email to TOI dated January 5 Simon Au, associate academic dean of SVU, said, “The Indian newspapers and news channels have also pointed at Air India for spreading rumours of universities “blacklisted” by the US government. SVU has not decided yet on whether it will file a defamation suit. We are in consultation with our attorneys.” The university maintained that it was “expecting new students (from India) this week for orientation and registration of classes before the Spring Trimester starts onJanuary 11” and that it would “accommodate late arrivals and help them register for classes”.

The strength of Indian students, especially from Hyderabad, at NPU is also expected to be high, claimed Hsieh. In fact, quoting admission figures of the last few years, he said that while “the Fall 2012 class was composed of about 30% students from India, the Fall 2015 NPU entering class was has roughly 95% students from India”.