The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration once again found itself going head-to-head with teachers and students on Monday, this time over an Academic Council (AC) meeting. While teachers slammed the vice-chancellor for passing agenda items without discussion — especially one giving him powers to intervene in nominating experts for the selection committee that appoints professors — the university said teachers and students “disrupted” the meeting.
Senior university officials told The Indian Express that the university would take action against those found involved in the “disruption”. “Such an incident was completely unprecedented. Unless it is handled in an appropriate way right now, things could get out of hand,” said a university official.
Arguing that the vice-chancellor “violated democratic norms”, 19 teachers and AC members in a statement said, “We are shocked and dismayed at the manner in which the vice-chancellor has conducted the Academic Council meeting. One of the most alarming insertions to the minutes gave the vice-chancellor powers to manipulate the list of experts for the selection committees sent by the centres and schools.”
JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) general secretary Satarupa Chakrabory said, “Through this action, the vice-chancellor wants to tamper with the expert list for selection and faculty appointment process — the partisan purposes of his action is all too obvious.”
Rejecting this, a senior university official said, “In 1997, the AC gave the authority to the V-C to nominate any expert to the selection committee. Since then, there has been no opposition to it. All V-Cs across India have the discretion to nominate one or two members to the selection committee.”
The university, in a statement, said, “While the AC meeting was going on smoothly, a handful of faculty members tried their best to disrupt the meeting by constantly shouting at the chairperson while he was speaking. The meeting was already over by then and necessary decisions had been taken by the council.”