A delegation of JNU teachers — Prof. CSR Murthy, Prof. Kunal Chakrabarti, Prof. Surajit Mazumdar, Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Prof. Bishnupriya Dutt and Prof. Sona Jharia Minz — met the Hon. President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, to apprise him of the JNU teachers’ objections to the Revised Ordinances for the M.Phil. and PhD degrees, and to communicate to him their distress at the ongoing grave violations of the JNU Act, Statutes, Rules and Regulations by the JNU administration. The delegation stressed that his urgent intervention was needed to save the university from ruin.
The discussion in the meeting was firstly about the revised Ordinances, and how their illegal imposition on the JNU community was a thinly veiled attempt to ensure that research in JNU would come to a standstill. The delegation highlighted the fact that these Ordinances were never approved by the 142nd Academic Council, and that they contained many amendments even after the EC had passed them. A full listing of such illegal alterations can be found here. A memorandum was presented on the faculty’s detailed critique highlighting the statutory lapses that had been involved in the revisions of the Ordinances. The delegation stressed that the Ordinances were bad in law as well, because they had been given retrospective effect from 5 May 2016 for students. For the 2016 batch in the Sciences, even the programmes they were admitted to have been altered, as the Ordinances severe the M.Tech and PhD degree programmes. Further, by counting all the PhD students that faculty have enrolled under them from 2012 onwards for the purpose of identifying them as being available as Research Supervisors, the retrospective effect stretches even longer into the past for faculty, at least up to 2013. The impact of these Ordinances would therefore not be felt on only the 2016 batch of students, but also students enrolled in earlier years as well.
The delegation also delivered an appeal signed by 48 AC and EC members to the President, requesting him to suspend the Ordinances with immediate effect. This follows the letter to the Registrar signed by 50 AC and EC members to the Registrar for tabling at the next Executive Council meeting.
The Hon. President was also kind enough to listen to other grievances that the faculty had. The first was the issue of the Vice-Chancellor tampering with the experts invited to Selection Committees for recruitment to faculty positions. There was a recent instance of such tampering, and it was made all the more egregious by the VC’s directive to the Selection Committee that some candidates discriminated against and not considered for appointment. Because the quorum was stacked by the Vice-Chancellor through his illegal nomination of two non-approved names as ‘experts’, less than satisfactory results came about. The delegation once again alerted the Visitor to the fact that such tampering was a clear violation of the Statutes and the UGC Regulations, 2010.
Another issue that was discussed was the conduct of the affairs in the university. It was pointed out to the Hon. President that no meeting of the Executive Council has been held since January, and how even the EC’s recommendations for the Chancellor was only communicated to EC members by email. AC meetings are inexplicably adjourned, and a host of administrative measures are vitiating the atmosphere of dialogue and consultation integral to JNU’s character of self-governance.
The President heard the delegation out and expressed his dissatisfaction at the state of affairs. He explained to the delegation that he is constrained by the essential framework of the Constitution and various Court judgments on the exercise of his powers and that within those constraints, he is doing, and will do, what he can. He revealed to us that he had intervened with the HRD Minister on the issues raised in the JNU Faculty’s earlier letters to him and would continue to do what he could to ensure that affairs in JNU are run in accordance with the law and its Act and Statutes.
We are appreciative that the President has in the past five months or so been so accessible to JNUTA, and that every time we have written to him, he has not only given JNU teachers an appointment but sincerely acted on the matters that we have alerted him to. While these efforts have not yet had the results they deserve, not making the effort at all is to cede the autonomy of JNU, to give up on the JNU Act, without even a murmur of opposition. That that opposition is real and is in the overwhelming majority must, and will, continue to be asserted.
Ayesha Kidwai Pradeep Shinde