JNUTA GBM calls for United Action in defence of Teacher’ Rights and the University

The General Body Meeting of the JNU Teachers Association met on 1 August 2017 and unanimously adopted the following resolutions. The meeting was attended by 120 teachers.

Resolution 1

The General Body of the JNU Teachers Association places on record its most sincere appreciation of the courageous leadership provided by the JNUTA team of 2016-17 to the whole JNU community since February 2016. In the face of such a wide-ranging and brutal attack on what a university and JNU stands for, the participatory, democratic, creative space created by the then TA leadership for resistance to the #shutdownjnu campaign is one of the main reasons why JNU remains open today.

Resolution 2
The General Body of the JNU Teachers' Association expresses its outrage against the complete vitiation of the administrative management of the University by the Vice-Chancellor, M. Jagadesh Kumar and his team of three Rectors and the Registrar. Time-tested traditions of democracy, consultation and respect for rules in decision-making have been summarily set aside, resulting in a highly centralised, autocratic and uncivil mode of functioning that have led to repeated and relentless violations of the JNU Act, Statutes and Ordinances. The GBM strongly condemns the JNU VC and his team for:

  • Blatant subversion of statutory bodies like the Academic Council and Executive Council and the guarantees of due process.
  • Egregious violations of statutory (and UGC) norms governing the composition of Selection Committees, by illegally arrogating to the Vice-Chancellor a power to stack the quorum. Furthermore, there are also charges of an abuse of power as Chair of Selection Committees, in the form of instructions to the Selection Committee to employ non-academic criteria in evaluation of candidates.
  • Complete dereliction of the primary statutory duty of the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar, which is to uphold the JNU Act of 1966. For the first time in the history of JNU, that the university has briefed its lawyers to defend the decisions of the UGC and the MHRD rather than its own Act. Also for the first time, the counsel representing JNU are persons who have openly expressed support for programmes that target the university's teachers and students.
  • Total disregard for the expectation of neutrality and impartiality from a person occupying the office of the Vice-Chancellor, so much so that many of the his team administration's actions appear to be an extension of the politics of the ruling party, state or its agencies.
  • Destruction of admissions, both in terms of intake and admission policy, to JNU research programmes in 2017-18, and the violation of all Constitutional provisions for reservation and the CEI Act.
  • Abuse of the position of the Vice-Chancellorin making the proposals for  undergraduate programmes of study in engineering and business administration inJNU, with no sanction whatsoever from any statutory academic body. The JNU Act does not vest this power in this office. There is no indication whatsoever that these programmes are in consonance with the objects of the First Schedule of the JNU Act and JNU's research character.
  • Appalling complicity and collusion with the forces defaming JNU and the motivated campaign that defames JNU as anti-national. The University's frequent press releases against teachers and students, leaks of fabricated information, the sole aim of the JNU administration is to vilify the university and JNU students and teachers.

The JNUTA GBM resolves to continue with its vigorous, informed and thinking critique of every violation of the JNU Act, Ordinances, Rules and Regulations. Where the need of the hour — indeed every hour — is a frank exchange of views and the willingness to move towards a resolution of all issues, negotiation can only be possible when respect for the JNU Act, university’s norms and due process are shared.

Resolution 2
The JNUTA GBM stands firm in its opposition to the unprecedented onslaught on the rights of JNU faculty members. Individual teachers have been subjected to sustained harassment with regards to the discharge of their duties as well as their status as employees.

  • One Professor has been illegally relieved from his post, even though the Executive Council did not approve of his repatriation to the institution where he was earlier employed in. The JNUTA GBM demands the colleague's immediate reinstatement, because lien is the right of the employee and it is his choice which institution he wishes to pursue his career in.
  • The confirmationoftwo colleagues has been unjustly withheld on spurious grounds. In one case, a re-verification of a caste certificate is the pretext, when there is no valid ground for any suspicion. In the second case, the decisions of a Selection Committee and previous EC decisions from over four years ago is sought to be overturned, and the terms of the employee’s contract violated with impunity. The JNUTA GBM demands the immediate confirmation of the two colleagues.
  • Three colleagues from one of the intellectually most vibrant Centres of the university, have been denied promotion under the CAS. Before the 268th Executive Council meeting of 30 June, these three candidates were asked  to apply again after three months, without citing any reason, or even mentioning denial of reservations. In the Executive Council of 30 June, these letters were resignified as indicating a rejection of their applications. As a consequence,   colleagues will now lose a year of seniority. The JNUTA GBM demands the reversal of the EC decision and an immediate reconvening of the Selection Committees for each of these colleagues’ CAS promotions, without any loss of seniority.
  • Previously ratified decisions regarding the counting of past service, payment of allowances, and other aspects of employment are being revisited and re-opened. Threats of financial recovery and demotion are being selectively used to try to coerce and intimidate select teachers. One glaring example of this is the manner in which the JNU Executive Council has decided to single out one case of counting of past service and to to send to the UGC for ‘clarification’, even as it agreed to close the matter of counting of past service in a number of other cases. The JNUTA GBM demands that the University administration bring this victimisation of a colleague to an immediate end, as there is perfect clarity that there can be no retrospective application of any law or rule.
  • One faculty member is now the subject of an enquiry for ‘instigating students”, by an 'enquiry committee' of the JNU Executive Council. Despite requests, neither the terms of reference for this Enquiry Committee nor any complaints against the teacher concerned have been specified, and the proceedings of the committee continue in utter violation of the principles of principle of natural justice and due process, as well as the service conditions that govern the employment of teachers.
  • The Centre for the Study of Social Systems, and specifically the colleagues involved in the evaluation of the JNUEE of 2016-17, has been severely maligned by sources highly placed within the JNU administration. The ‘leaked’ fabricated story about irregularities in the evaluation of the 2016 JNUEE to the CSSS that appeared in a national newspaper has not only gone uncontested, no inquiry nto the ‘leak’ of 30 answer scripts to the newspaper, or into the inclusion of false and misleading information in the Tandon report tabled to the JNU EC has been instituted at all. The Centre’s request for an official press release through the Public Relations Office has been ignored, despite the fact that it has had to admit to the JNU EC that the Tandon report provided misleading information on the issue. The JNUTA GBM holds that the VC and his team must issue a public apology to CSSS at once.
    In the matter of appointment of wardens, the Vice Chancellor has been unilaterally appointing wardens, usurping, as per the statutes, the authority of thee provost. Many serving warden colleagues have been summarily removed, or asked to vacate wardens’ accommodation, causing great inconvenience to them and their families

The JNUTA GBM stands united in the face of the onslaught on teachers rights, and recognises that the target of this sustained harassment, persistent incivility, and autocratic intransigence is all teachers who know what a university stands for, what higher education truly signifies both for the individual as well as society and a nation.

Resolution 3
The JNUTA GBM resolves to undertake a sustained campaign in the Monsoon semester in defence of teachers’ rights as employees, the JNU Act, Constitutional values and the realisation of Constitutional provisions for reservation, the restoration of admissions to JNU’s research programmes, and the many other issues that plague the university today.

  • The JNUTA GBM resolves to frame and publicise a detailed charge sheet that demonstrates that myriad failures of the JNU VC and his team in managing the affairs of the university.
  • As an immediate action, a call for a march in defence of teachers’ rights on 8 August 2017 is to be given.
  • Further, a prominent part of this programme shall be JNUTA’s Khaali Classroom lecture series, which will be taught by the Centres/Schools/Special Centres whose research programmes have had zero admissions in the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Finally, the GBM authorises the JNUTA EC to plan and execute a series of other public events over the semester.

Ayesha Kidwai Pradeep Shinde

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