The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration on Tuesday sent letters to five faculty members “requesting” them to “follow the rules” of the university and not address students at the Administrative Block. Professor Nivedita Menon — the first to receive a similar notice on December 30, which stated that such a move would attract “disciplinary action” — is among the five faculty members who got the letter. Official sources had earlier told The Indian Express that a high-level enquiry committee (HLEC) would be set up against professors, especially Menon, for violating university rules.
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The letter issued by the registrar lists out part of the statute, which states that protests, hunger strikes and public meetings have to be conducted “20 metres away from Administrative and Academic Complexes”.
“It has been noticed that one of the posters, calling for a public meeting at the Administrative Building on January 9, has mentioned your name as one of the speakers. You are hence requested to respect and follow the statutes, rules and regulations of the university,” the letter states.
Besides Menon, other faculty members who received the letter, signed by the registrar, are professor Y S Alone, professor Ram Chandra, associate professor Soumyabrata Choudhary and assistant professor Harish Wankhede. Their names were mentioned on a poster for a public meeting organised by the Committee of Suspended Students for Social Justice — comprising the nine students and two “former” students who were suspended for “disrupting” an Academic Council meeting.
Even though Professor Chandra’s name was mentioned on the poster, he didn’t attend the meeting but still received the letter. “I got busy with some other work and couldn’t address the meeting. We have not been asked to reply but I will send a response. This is not acceptable. We’re living in an Emergency-like situation,” he said. Wankhede said such letters would not deter teachers from organising programmes at the venue. “There are always rules and regulations but there are also some norms and traditions which a university builds over time. Public meetings are a convention of the university and we will follow that,” he said.
Professor Alone said, “I would like the administration to demarcate the 20-metre boundary, so that neither my constitutional right nor the university statute is violated.”