JNU vice-chancellor issues notices to 48 teachers
Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar has issued notices to 48 teachers for a strike demanding his ouster last year.
Among the 48 are former and serving office-bearers of the university teachers’ association, several senior professors and at least one retired teacher.
While several students and a few teachers have faced disciplinary action for a series of protests since Kumar assumed charge in 2016, this is the first large-scale action on the teachers and has the potential to trigger the dismissal of several senior professors.
The teachers have until August 7 to respond.
Most of them have questioned the action, which is based on a resolution adopted by the university’s executive council in June this year.
In July last year, the teachers had organised a daylong strike on two issues.
One, the “harassment, targeting and humiliation of JNU teachers by the vice-chancellor and this administration in various statutory bodies”.
Two, the withholding of the salaries of two teachers, one of whom has approached the Delhi Commission for Minorities, which has sent a notice to JNU.
The executive council had then had formed a committee, chaired by African studies professor Ajay Dubey, to look into any rule violations by the teachers.
On June 12 this year, the executive council resolved to issue a “chargesheet under major penalty” to the strikers, based on Dubey’s report.
Following this, the teachers’ association wrote to all the executive council members on July 17, saying the decision was illegal.
It argued that the authorities were wrongly applying to the teachers a high court order against students protesting within 100 metres of the administrative building. More important, it said, the teachers had not been given a copy of Dubey’s report.
Individual teachers too wrote to Kumar seeking a copy of the report, details of the procedure followed, and an explanation why they hadn’t been given an opportunity to defend themselves.
Kumar could not be reached for comments.
In the notices sent to the teachers along with a video showing them protesting, Kumar has accused them of violating Rule M-7(6) of the Academic Rules and Regulations that ban protests within the 100-metre radius. He has instituted an inquiry under Rule 14 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965.
The teachers’ association expressed its “outrage and condemnation” in a statement on Friday.
“This 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 judgment and a regulation that is not even applicable to teachers in the first place,” it said.
It accused the university of “open defiance” of the human resource development ministry’s stated position that the CCS rules don’t apply to teachers.
It cited how, after nationwide protests on an earlier attempt to apply the CCS rules to teachers, then HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had tweeted on October 20 last year: “We have neither put any restrictions nor intend to put any restrictions on ‘freedom of speech’ in JNU, Delhi University or any other university.”
The teachers’ association has appealed to all teachers, unions, activists and politicians to support the 48 teachers to whom the notices have been issued.
“Universities are a part of society — speaking up and acting for justice, reform, democratisation, and change is the role that academics must play if they are to give back to society,” it said.