9 March 2016: An assembly of faculty was called by JNUTA to pass two motions. One was the vote of no-confidence in the High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC) and the other being the demand to remove Prof Bhupinder Zutshi from the post of the Registrar. The assembly was attended by many students also.
The JNUTA President began by reading out the letter from the Vice-Chancellor, which was in words of JNUTA president Prof Pattnaik “no improvement from the earlier one”. It was a short response with “no substance”. TheVice-Chancellor says in the letter “I would like to state that I have been trying to resolve the 9th Feb 2016 incident on the basis of the established rules and norms. The High Level Enquiry Committee has been entrusted with an important responsibility and I am confident that the committee will submit its report by the 11th March 2016. I am looking into other points raised by your letter seriously and let me convey it to you that I will appropriately take decisions on basis of rules and regulations keeping in mind the best interest of the university. There have been special calls for cooperation and patience from the university community.”
The JNUTA President also stated that he has been told by the Vice-Chancellor (not officially) that the registrar has been taken out of this decision making committee of the 9th February 2016 incident. On being asked by the President if an official communication can be given regarding this, the Vice-chancellor refused to make any official statement. Dr Pattnaik pointed out that this confirms the stance of the JNUTA that this “person has done enormous damage” and that “this fellow is out to, in his last 15-20 days, destroy everything… and we cannot retrieve the ground lost”.
After, the Secretary of the JNUTA read out the letter written on 9 March 2016 to the Vice-Chancellor. The letter highlighted “another unwelcome activity witnessed on the part of the acting Registrar”. He further states that the Registrar had purposefully leaked his deposition to the enquiry committee before the media. This act “violates the basic requirements and acts against the interest of the university”. Consequently, JNUTA is “aghast” at the present functioning of the university process. JNUTA wanted to lodge a strong protest against this subversion by the acting Registrar who “is hell bent on defaming the university and brining shame to the office of the Registrar”. And that the JNUTA requests the Vice-Chancellor that these incidents do not happen in the future by asking the Registrar to “at least” step down.
After this letter, two motions were presented from the house.
The first Motion against the HLEC was presented by Prof Jaivir Singh from CSLG.
This was a motion of no confidence against the HLEC which had ignored the pleas of the JNUTA to establish a “credible” enquiry committee. Many rules were flouted and 8 students were suspended in absence of prima facie evidence. In an embarrassment to the university an HELC member has admitted to the media that they do not even have the full names of students who have to dispose before the committee and for the enquiry had to ask the “22 Anjalis” enrolled in the university to identify the alleged student. Further, no justification has been given till date as to why the academic debarment was necessary. Additionally the terms of reference for the enquiry committee are still unclear.
The second motion was presented before the assembly by Prof Ranjani Mazumdar from SAA.
This was concerning the de-recognition of the Registrar. The following reasons were given in support of the motion: Prof Zutshi has not discharged his functions in keeping with the rules and had granted permission to the police to enter in the campus, a “carte blanche” not formally withdrawn till date. He has given false and irresponsible statements to the media and has recently leaked his statements made to the HLEC in the public. He has provided unauthenticated evidence to the committee and had sent police to an international academic conference. Further, on 12 February the teachers and their families were threatened by a mob in the campus residential area and no action was taken by the administration against the attackers. He also doubted the threat to life the teachers faced in Patiala House Court. Recently he had allowed surveillance without any due process and justification. He had given threats to photocopiers inside and around the campus, and gave posters for the event to MHRD as proof of guilt of students of JNU. Prof Zutshi was to retire on 9 March 2015 and his term has been unjustifiably extended.
The JNUTA President also conveyed the message that Umar and Anirban are doing fine and express their thanks for the support received by the teachers and the students.
Later on, the faculty members tied black ribbons on their arms, in a symbolic gesture voicing their dissent against the administration and the incompetent handling of the situation. There were also talks of attending the march called by All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Association on 14 March, at Jantar Mantar to protest against the intrusions of the HRD in higher education and the functioning of the UGC, the delay in appraisal for the seventh pay commission and the abolition of the academic point index for appointment and promotion of teachers in colleges and universities. JNUSU urged students to participate in the march in solidarity with the college teachers.
Meanwhile, JNUSU gave a call for a protest demonstration outside Ad Block on 11 March at 2 PM, when the enquiry committee is suppose to announce its decisions. There was also another call for a protest march to Jantar Mantar on 15 March, made by the President, JNUSU.
Gargi Binju is a research scholar at CFFS and works in the News Pool at The Informer.
An earlier version is this article incorrectly mentioned the time of the JNUSU protest demonstration as 12 PM.