New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) and Students’ Union on Tuesday denounced the calling of an emergency meeting of Academic Council to discuss the adoption of 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS).
The JNU administration adopted the UGC’s notification on reservation for economically weaker sections for admission in Central Educational Institutions at the 149th meeting of the Academic Council (AC).
The faculty and Students’ Union questioned the validity of such a meeting that violated clauses and made a "mockery of consultative process in academic matters".
The democratically elected bodies of the JNU accused the administration of not respecting the university’s Act and statutes. As per the statements by both the bodies, the meeting was convened at 5.00 pm through an email sent at 4:45 pm. “Instead of rescheduling the meeting to a later date, as asked for by many members, and instead calling an AC meeting at a 15-minute notice, the JNU administration has once again revealed its utter contempt for all that makes a university,” JNUTA president Atul Sood and secretary Avinash Kumar said in a statement.
The teachers complained that the meeting was convened at a venue (room 225 of Administrative Block) which does not have the capacity to seat even a quarter of the total Academic Council members. “JNUTA and many other members of the AC have not received the notice for the changed venue and time of this illegal meeting. JNUTA condemns this blatant display of illegality by the JNU administration and asserts that any decision of such a meeting has no validity of sanctity,” said Sood.
The statement by JNUTA stated that the notification for this meeting was received o February 5 via a letter circulated a day before. “This is in violation of clause 3(1) Regulation M-1, which states that a written letter or notice shall be circulated by the Registrar to the members of the Academic Council 21 days before the meeting,” and “agenda items shall be circulated among the members ten days in advance of the meeting.”
“The meeting is being called only to discuss the reservation for the economically weaker sections for which the “JNU administration has not provided adequate papers,” said JNUTA.
The teachers’ body expressed concern that the agenda papers do not mention the source of funds in providing infrastructure, faculty and staff for the implementation of reservation and 25 per cent increase in the student strength.
“Unlike the 27% reservation for OBC, the EWS reservation does not come as a result of an Act of Parliament but as an Office Memorandum (OM) from the Human Resource Development ministry dutifully forwarded by the UGC. Without full legal appreciation of whether and how the reservation and the 25% increase in student intake is to be implemented and how it will interact with CEI Act 2006, placing the matter in Academic Council for discussion is inappropriate,” said the statement.
The administration was accused of citing urgency as a reason to short circuit democratic processes, “Urgency cannot be cited as a pretext for short circuiting democratic deliberations in this matter and now discuss in detail how best this policy maybe harmonized with the JNU Act and existing admission policy,” said the statement.
The JNUTA members were concerned that the government was pushing for the reservation without any funds. “This amounts to creating conditions for increased privatisation of funding and increase in students’ fees.” said JNUTA statement.
“No AC meeting can be deemed valid in which the statutory membership and full presence of elected representatives of teachers and students is violated,” it added.
Terming the meeting as ‘illegal’, the Students’ Union said in a statement: “The JNU admin had again called for an AC meeting without inviting the JNUSU office bearers.” The Union had given the call of ‘no AC meeting without JNUSU’ and ensured that no members enter the meeting venue unless the union is called inside.
Responding to the allegations, the JNU administration said: “The Academic Council meeting was called as per regulations (M1-3(2)) concerning the conduct of the meetings of the Academic Council which says: The Vice-chancellor may authorise the convening of an emergency meeting of the Council at short notice to consider issues of special importance or urgency.”
“Given the urgency of the matter to carry on with the JNU admission process for the coming academic year as per the Government Policy and UGC Regulations, the JNU administration had no alternative but to hold the meeting in an alternative venue, so that the interest of hundreds of thousands of student aspirants is not hampered by a handful of agitators,” the administration said in a statement.