The conundrum between JNU teachers and the administration led by vice chancellor M. Jagadish Kumar has been long drawn. However, the latest development in the ongoing dispute between the teachers and the VC of the university has been in the context of the administration taking up large scale action on teachers that may trigger the dismissal of several senior professors of the university.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor has decided to issue notices to 48 teachers for having taken part in a strike that was organised to demand that he resign as the university’s vice-chancellor, this peaceful strike took place last year.
Out of the 48 teachers who have been given notices by the JNU administration are even some of the office bearers of the university’s teachers’ association, many of the most senior professors of the university and also a teacher who has retired. We would recall that the teachers and students of JNU has been in a constant tussle with the administration of Mr. Jagadish Kumar ever since he took charge of office in 2016.
Several students and many teachers have had to face disciplinary action as a response by the administration to a series of protests that they have been organising to oust the vice-chancellor and to showcase their disillusionment with the way that the university is functioning under his leadership.
However, the notice to 48 members of the faculty is the first large scale action on teachers and is a serious matter of concern for the university because it may trigger further conflict between the faculty and the administration at the university. The teachers who have received the notice have time until the 7th of August to respond.
The teachers who have been issued the notice and the faculty association in general has questioned the decision of the administration and has raised objections on the way the administration has constantly been targeting teachers and students who have raised their voices of dissent against the alleged malpractices of the JNU administration.
While most of the teachers have questioned the action that was based on a resolution that was adopted by the university’s executive council in June this year, they have also expressed their concerns regarding the non-democratic and anti-dialogic nature of the JNU administration.
It was in July,2018 that the JNU teachers had organised a day-long strike to protest against two things.
Firstly, they protested against the alleged targeting and harassment of JNU teachers by the administration and secondly they protested against the withholding of the salaries of two faculty members by the vice-chancellor and the administration.
One of the teachers whose salaries had been withheld by the administration had also approached the Delhi Commission for the Minorities, that had in return sent a notice to JNU.
The JNU Executive Council had formed a committee that was chaired by professor Ajay Dubey– the committee was responsible for investigating if the teachers had violated any rules of the university. It was in June, 2019 that this committee resolved to issue a “charge-sheet under major penalty” to the strikers.
This action was based on the Dubey’s report.
In response to the action taken by the administration, the teachers’ association wrote an open letter to all those who were part of the execute council on July 17th, 2019 and held that the decision of the administration was not legal.
They argued that the authorities were wrong in applying the order to the teachers, because the order of the high court that said that students were not allowed to march within 100 meters of the administrative block applied to the students and not to them.
Also they said that they had not even been supplied a copy of Dubey’s report.
Many teachers tried to meet the vice-chancellor an wrote to him to seek a copy of the report, the details of the procedures followed and ask why they hadn’t been a given a chance to defend themselves- however the vice-chancellor chose not to respond to these queries.
The notice that has been sent to the teachers alleges that they have violated Rule M-7(6)of the Academic Rules and Regulations that bans protest within a 100-metre radius outside the JNU administration. The vice-chancellor has instituted inquiry against the teachers under the Rule 14 of the Central Civil Services(Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965. The teachers’ association has condemned the action in a joint statement. The statement issued by the teachers’ association states that “ The latest attempt is in continuation of this illegality, as it threatens teachers with the imposition of a major penalty under the CCS rules by making reference to a Delhi High Court judgement and a regulation that is not even applicable in the first place.”
The teachers’ association has also alleged that the administration is engaged in ‘open defiance’ of the human resource development ministry’s stated position that the CCS rules are not applicable to the teachers.
The teachers’ union also appealed to teachers’ unions across the nation, activists and political leaders to come forward in support of the 48 teachers who have been issued notices by the JNU administration.