JNUTA wary of JNU plans to place teachers under conduct of Central Services Rules

The Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) had expressed its resentment at the administration’s decision to impose Conduct of Central Services Rules on JNU teachers, which, they alleged, restricted them from expressing dissent, according to a PTI report.  A day after the Jawaharlal Nehru University academic council discussed placing teachers under the Conduct of Central Services Rules, the varsity’s teachers’ association said the “very role that academics are supposed to play in the classroom and civil society has become criminalised”.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) alleged the current administration has decided to impose Conduct of Central Services Rules on JNU teachers, which restricts them from expressing dissent. The JNUTA said the rules apply to government servants and prohibit them from being “a member of, or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics”. Some other rules prohibit government servant from resorting to strike or coercion, canvassing in the election and there are different similar rules. Under these rules, economics professors can be punished for discussing economic policy, political scientists can be penalised for discussing politics, and environmental science professors can be sanctioned for explaining ecological system and scientists can be punished for discussing government science policy, the JNUTA said.

“All educationists can be punished for expressing their views on educational policy. The very role that academics are supposed to play in the classroom and civil society has become criminalised,” it said. The rules also prohibit government servants from being associated with newspapers. The strictures on publication mean that routine academic work of writing and publishing papers becomes a violation of service conditions. Matters of academic honour – such as being invited to be on the editorial board of journals – will become a violation of service conditions, the teachers’ association said. Strictures prohibiting publications that are ‘capable of embarrassing the relations’ between the Centre and states or between India and other foreign states would mean that not only can one not make any critical comments about inter-state relations or international relations, but even a crucial commentary on literary and artistic traditions could invite punitive action, they added.

Varsity Announcement

It might be recalled that on October 6, 2018, the JNU administration had announced that it was contemplating on placing teachers under the conduct of Central Services Rules, which would eventually restrict these staff for making public statements against the administration.  The varsity held its academic council meeting on Friday, and the issue was part of the agenda, which the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) alleged was circulated only three-four days before the meeting, the agency report said.

An academic council member said a discussion was held on the Conduct of Central Services Rules for teachers, which would mean they will not be allowed to express dissent. He said there was a discussion on it, but the vice-chancellor did not consider their views. In a statement, the JNUTA alleged teachers were not allowed to express their opinions on “crucial issues of academic relevance”.

“The JNU vice-chancellor once again didn’t allow members in the Academic Council to express their dissent. At the beginning of the meeting when various members tried to raise procedural issues, including several illegalities about the manner in which this meeting was convened, the chair didn’t allow anybody to speak,” they alleged. The JNU regulations require the circulation of the council agenda ten days before the meeting, but agenda papers did not reach any schools and centres before October 1, and for many, it reached on October 3, the JNUTA said.

“This purposeful delay has made it impossible for the schools and centres to engage fully with all the issues coming up in the academic council,” they said. The dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics is a statutory member of the academic council, but the office has been illegally barred from participating in the meeting, they said.

“Prof Kavita Singh, the current dean, has written to the university administration several times since the last meeting, nominating another colleague on her behalf if her participation is unacceptable to the administration, but this appeal has gone unanswered,” the JNUTA said. The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) had called for a strike on Friday since they were not invited to the academic council. However, the varsity administration called their claims baseless.

“The newly elected JNUSU panel is yet to be notified by the relevant body. JNUSU office-bearers are not members of the academic council but only special invitees,” the varsity said. The varsity also said the outgoing JNUSU members were departed from academic council meeting due to “serious misbehaviour and misdemeanour” at an earlier academic council meeting, added the report.

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