In a press release, the Union said, "The College failed to follow procedures in dismissing Professor Joseph. The college should rethink about his ouster”.
Prof Joseph, who headed the Department of Malayalam, had submitted an exam questionnaire to his students, but some Muslim students objected to some of the questions, claiming that they contained words offensive to Muhammad.
After he explained that he had no intention of offending, he offered his public apologies to the population, the College, Church authorities (the institution is run by Catholics) and the police department. However, on 4 July, he was attacked by activists of the Popular Front of India who chopped off a hand and part of his arm.
On 1 September, the Catholic college fired him, claiming he had offended the religious sentiments of the population, and justified its action by saying that it had to protect the secular character of the institution.
In a letter to the managing board of Newman College, Prof Joseph asked to be rehired on humanitarian grounds, explaining that he had no intention of offending. He noted that he was his family’s only breadwinner and that he had a record of 25 years without a single complaint. He added that he could not be considered a “heretic”. Despite his plea, the college turned down his request.
For his offense, Prof Joseph was jailed, but the sentence was suspended and he was released on bail.