Delhi HC rules in JNUTA’s favour over faculty appointments

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: May 17, 2019

JNUTA said the integrity of the faculty recruitment process in JNU’s has been hugely compromised by the manifold illegalities committed by the VC and that JNU teachers have been relentless in their opposition.


JNUTA
 
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court ruled in the favour of Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) saying that new faculty appointments must be routed through the Academic Council and Executive Council. the JNUTA in a statement said that it makes it very clear to the JNU Vice-Chancellor that there must be full implementation of the order.
 
JNUTA said the integrity of the faculty recruitment process in JNU’s has been hugely compromised by the manifold illegalities committed by the VC and that JNU teachers have been relentless in their opposition. “This order of the High Court has put the indelible stamp of justice on our efforts. But in the face of willful errancy by a rogue administration, including defiance of court orders, the need of the hour is for all teachers to stand in defence of the JNU Act more than ever before,” the JNUTA said.
 
JNUTA said that the Academic Council must be allowed to discuss names of the experts in a manner accessible to its entire statutorily-defined membership. “Members must be allowed full opportunity to discuss, reject, or approve any such name. Such an AC meeting must be scheduled and conducted in full accordance with the JNU Act and Regulation M1 and not before schools and centres have had adequate opportunity to express a view on the additions to their database of experts,” the JNUTA said.
 
It added that centres and schools must be mandatorily informed about the names that have been added to the panel of experts they had recommended to the 141st Academic Council so that the centres can have a comprehensive discussion about the experts before taking these names to the Academic Council for approval.
 
The teachers, in their statement, reminded the VC that “no selection committees can be constituted that include experts added to the panels by the VC without AC approval,” the JNUTA said.
 
As regards appointments already made through an illegal procedure, the JNUTA said it is extremely unfortunate that the university administration did not officially inform the selected candidates about the ongoing legal proceedings challenging the procedure of their appointments.
 
JNUTA has had to seek Delhi HC’s intervention time and again to protect the sanctity of the education system at JNU. In January this year, The Delhi high court stayed the mandatory marking of attendance for teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as decided by the academic and the executive council in July 2018. The court stated that action against teachers for irregular attendance can be taken in accordance with laid down rules.
 
Not just mandatory attendance JNUTA has also been fighting for the VC’s removal.
 
50 members of Parliament submitted two memorandums to the HRD Minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar from Lok Sabha (45 MPs) and Rajya Sabha (5 MPs) expressing anguish over the alleged destruction of the university under the Vice-Chancellorship of Prof. M Jagadesh Kumar and sought immediate action. The MPs demanded the removal of the JNU VC over his policies that have been severely detrimental to the university.
 
In 2018, JNUTA spoke against the unjustified and sudden termination of two sanitation workers and said that it was unacceptable.
 
One of the sanitation workers who was let go was Urmila, the President of All India General Kamgaar Union. Kamgaar Union was fighting and defending the rights of the workers in JNU.
 
“Rather than reversing the trend towards contractualization, the administration is now punishing those who are fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable workforce in JNU,” Atul Sood, President and Avinash Kumar, Secretary, JNUTA, had said in a statement.
 
The fears students had expressed about having a body like an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in JNU had come true in December, 2018. In an extraordinarily harsh move, the ICC recommended punitive action against a complainant of sexual harassment. The Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) called the recommended punitive actions as “extraordinarily harsh” and expressed fears that such action may threaten the work around gender justice on the campus.
 
GSCASH was replaced by the ICC in its 269th Executive Council meeting held on September 18 2017 and ICC, which was supposed to have members nominated by the administration, was formed.
 
Students had expressed fears about the ICC not being a body selected by students and faculty and hence its decisions could turn undemocratic and may not entirely serve the purpose of gender justice.
 
Sabrang India had earlier reported that the UGC (University Grants Commission) had imposed Central Civil Services (CCS) conduct rules, 1964, on Jawaharlal Nehru University in September amid discontent and criticism from JNU teachers.
 
“A university produces new knowledge and teaches it. But to do so, it needs independence of thinking and the freedom to dissent and act on that dissent. The CCS rules will remove these freedoms,” JNUTA had said in a statement.
 
The UGC has been trying to dissolve the Delhi University’s autonomy by bringing Exams, Teaching, Learning and Evaluation under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA.)
 
This being done at the behest of MHRD and the ESMA Act was passed by the Modi govt.
 
The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has promised to resist this attack on their democratic rights.
 
Students and teachers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) marched from the JNU campus to Parliament in Delhi in March, 2018, in a move that the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) and JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) labelled the 'Long March'. The teachers have spoken out against the institution’s current vice-chancellor, Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar, whom they accuse of trying to "wreck and ruin" JNU "with the help of the media and the political establishment". The teachers said that "the VC has presided over a massive seat cut in JNU, depriving our ordinary poor and hardworking students of the opportunity to come and study at an institution like JNU."
 
In a report by Nivedita Menon on Sabrang India, she listed all the things that the VC has done since his taking over in January 2016:
 
  • openly flouted every statute and regulation of the university
  • shut down admissions almost entirely for the 2017 academic year
  • violated the law of the land, that is, constitutional provision for reservations
  • failed to implement JNU’s Deprivation Point system that attempts to bring about representation for students from a diversity of class, regional and caste backgrounds
  • shut down the country’s oldest functioning Committee on Sexual Harassment (GSCASH)
  • brazenly cooked up and manipulated Minutes of meeting after meeting of the Academic Council and
  • treated faculty and students of JNU as his enemies to be defeated by the naked use of authoritarian power

He has lost all moral authority to continue as the Vice Chancellor of a university that has consistently been ranked highly by reports of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council – see here  and here, as well as by reports of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), carried out by the government of India in 2017 and 2016.  (All this before this VC taking over, and without compulsory attendance.)
 
Full text of JNUTA’s statement:
 
The JNUTA welcomes the order of the Honourable High Court of Delhi (attached) on the interim application (CM No.17195/2019) filed in the ongoing challenge to the new faculty appointments procedure created by the Vice-Chancellor. By amending regulation M 18, the VC had delegated to himself the power to add names to the panel of experts and merely report these to the Executive Council. The JNUTA is gratified to report that in its interim order, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court has upheld the teachers’ viewpoint (through their counsel Mr. Akhil Sibal and Mr. Abhik Chimni) and the JNUTA stand that the panel of experts has to be approved by the Academic Council. The Vice Chancellor thus far needs the Academic Council “recommendation” (at para 16) and “approval” (at para 12) and it is only thereafter that the panel could operate for affecting selections to faculty positions. Without this procedure being followed, no valid panel of experts can be created. M-18 therefore cannot delegate the power of Academic Council to the Executive Council and then further to the Vice-Chancellor.
 
With reference to JNU’s argument that the Academic Council had no jurisdiction over faculty selection, the Court in its order found it “surprising that the JNU is seeking to argue contrary to its own statutes” (at para 8). This observation of the Court and the interim order are testimony to the fact that the JNU Administration and the public resources at its command are being used, not to represent the interests of the university or of its teachers and students, but solely the lawless JNU VC, M. Jagadesh Kumar. The law officer of the university, the JNU Registrar, is also complicit in this process and both must be held accountable for this. While expressing gratitude to the DHC rescuing the JNU Act and Statutes from the depredations of its administration, the JNUTA resolves not to rest until official responsibility is fixed for this and several other instances of failure to uphold the JNU Act and Statutes.
 
The Court order clearly states that “the panel, including the names added by the VC, if any, would have to be recommended by the Academic Council and, thereafter put up to the Executive Council for approval, and it is only thereafter that the panel could operate for effecting selections to faculty positions” [at para 16(ii)]. The JNUTA makes it very clear to the JNU VC that there must be full implementation of the order of the Hon. High Court of Delhi. This means that:
 
- No Selection Committees can be constituted which include experts added to the panels by the VC without AC approval.
 
- As regards appointments already made through an illegal procedure, the JNUTA notes that it is extremely unfortunate that the University Administration did not officially inform the selected candidates about ongoing legal proceedings challenging the procedure of their appointments. It must at least do that now as the date for the final disposal of petitions challenging the selection committees held in violation of the JNU Act is 13 August 2019.
 
- Centres and Schools must be mandatorily informed of the names that have been added to the panel of experts they had recommended to the 141st Academic Council so that Centre’s can have a comprehensive discussion about the experts before taking these names to the Academic Council for approval.
 
- The Academic Council must be allowed to discuss names of the experts in a manner accessible to its entire statutorily-defined membership. Members must be allowed full opportunity to discuss, reject, or approve any such name. Such an AC meeting must be scheduled and conducted in full accordance with the JNU Act and Regulation M1 and not before Schools and Centres have had adequate opportunity to express a view on the additions to their database of experts.
 
The integrity of the faculty recruitment process in JNU’s has been hugely compromised by the manifold illegalities committed by the Vice chancellor Prof. M Jagadesh Kumar. JNU teachers have been relentless in their opposition, and this order of the High Court has put the indelible stamp of justice on their efforts. But in the face of willful errancy by a rogue administration, including defiance of court orders, the need of the hour is for all teachers to stand in defence of the JNU Act more than ever before.
 
President Secretary Atul Sood, Avinash Kumar.