The Academics and Action for Development (AAD) Thursday said the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s constitution of a working group to “impose” the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) 1968 was a “fatal assault on the very idea of university”.
AAD Chairperson Aditya Narayan Misra said: “…Under ESMA Clause (VIII), anybody can be arrested for speaking out, ‘for instigation’ even ‘without warrant’. Clause (V) states that such an Act ‘… shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year…’
A teachers’ group said, “It’s an attack on debate, discussion, the spirit of inquiry and scholarship to pave way for privately-funded teaching shops sans fearless pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Bringing Delhi University under ESMA is a hurried prelude to the larger design of higher education, by pulling down the strong edifice of the University of Delhi…” The working group, constituted by the MHRD on October 4, has to submit its report within 30 days.
“Delhi University was established under an Act of Parliament in 1922 and it runs through its own statutes… at the behest of private players, the MHRD-UGC has constituted a hand-picked rapid action working group to change the Act,” said Misra. He said “If CCS (Central Civil Services) is a pogrom, then ESMA is its lethal tool”.