REPORT on your relatives if they indulge in “subversive” activities, prevent your relatives from acting against the government, reveal your links to the media, seek prior sanction before going to the media.
These are some of the controversial provisions in the new draft service rules being discussed by the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences — a premier institute of legal education with the Chief Justice of India as its Chancellor — for its teaching and non-teaching staff, including those appointed on contract, daily wage and ad hoc basis.
Among the provisions in the draft WBNUJS Service Rules 2016, under discussion for nearly a month now, Rule 40 states that “it shall be the duty of every employee to prevent any member of his family from taking part in, subscribing in aid of, or assisting in any other manner any movement or activity which is, or tends directly or indirectly to be, subversive of the Government”.
It adds that “where an employee is unable to prevent a member of his family from taking part in, subscribing in aid of, or assisting in any other manner, any such movement or activity”, he shall “report” the development to the university.
Asked about these draft rules and whether these violated the fundamental rights of staff, V-C Professor P Ishwara Bhat told The Indian Express: “This is just a draft. It is being discussed at various levels. It will be implemented only after thorough discussions and approval.”
Bhat has taught at the University of Mysore and lists on his official bio-data, Constitutional law, and law and social change as his expert areas.
Apart from being the Chancellor of WBNUJS, the Chief Justice of India is also the chairman of the university’s general council, its supreme policy making body, which is discussing these draft rules.
The draft rules also aim to regulate any “connection” of staff to the media. Rule 42 states that no employee shall “make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the University”.
It also bars employees from participating in the “editing or management of any newspaper or periodical publication or electronic media” without the prior sanction of the university.
It further states that no employee shall participate in a radio broadcast or electronic media programme, contribute any article, write any letter or a book without the university’s approval. The only exception is for broadcasts or writing that is of “purely literary, artistic or scientific character”.
Rule 52 prohibits an employee, who is facing adverse criticism or defamation charges for any official act, from take recourse in courts or the media for “vindication” of such acts without the university’s permission.
According to Prabhat Ranjan, Assistant Professor at Delhi University, this is “perhaps the first such instance of universities discussing such rules”.
“Universities are the cradle of free thought. Teaching is the most liberal profession. We often speak up against a variety of things. Why do we need permission from any authority for expressing our views? Such rules are bizarre and authoritarian, and cripple the education system. It’s a clear attempt to muffle teachers,” said Ranjan.
Another draft rule prohibits a married employee from marrying again. However, the Vice-Chancellor may permit such marriage if he or she is satisfied that it is permissible under the personal law applicable to such employee and the other party to the marriage, and if “there are other grounds for so doing”.