The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) Friday hit out at the administration for “misrepresenting” Ordinances, and “lying” about the system of attendance at the university. They claimed that the Registrar, in his press release on February 18, had lied about why JNU was implementing compulsory attendance.
Responding to the allegations, Rector 1 Chintamani Mahapatra said they were “interpreting Ordinances to suit their purpose”. In its circular, the university had cited a 1971 Ordinance, which said “it is mandatory for all Deans of Schools to maintain a record of attendance of students in all programmes”. Citing Ordinance 22 of 1971, Registrar Pramod Kumar had said, “It is very clear, that in all courses, faculty members need to take the attendance and submit it to the Dean’s office for maintaining a record… Even for certificate and diploma programmes, there is a mandatory 80% attendance requirement.”
However, JNUSU president Geeta Kumari said the mandatory attendance was only for certificate courses. “Ordinance 22 of 1971 specifies 80% attendance requirement only for ‘certificate of proficiency, diploma of advance proficiency and pre-degree diploma in languages’; not for all courses,” she said. Further, the administration has mischievously hidden the fact that Ordinance 22 of 1971 has been subsequently superseded by Ordinance 23 since 1978, which removed the said attendance criteria even for diploma/certificate courses,” JNUSU .
The Registrar had also said that maintenance of attendance was necessary to contest elections: “Since JNU conducts student elections, it is mandatory that attendance records for all registered and regular students should be maintained, as mandated by the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations.” However, the JNUSU said the recommendations were “applicable to the JNU elections with a number of relaxations, including to the attendance system, as provided by the Supreme Court of India on December 8, 2011”.
The SC, in 2011, had said, “Insofar as attendance criteria is concerned, we have been told by the learned counsel appearing for the university authorities that in JNU, for research students no attendance is taken. Therefore, the stipulation given in the LCR about 75% attendance is not applicable insofar as election by research students of JNU is concerned.” Mahapatra said, “The administration has put all relevant documents, which anybody can read and understand. They’re reading Ordinances the wrong way. The SC decision on elections was given when there was no attendance. But now the administration has implemented it, so it will have to be followed,” he said.