The Delhi High Court Wednesday stayed action initiated against 48 JNU teachers, many of whom are members of the teachers’ union, for allegedly participating in a day-long strike in July last year.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while staying the inquiry initiated by JNU against the faculty members, also sought the response of the university on the plea by teachers challenging the action initiated against them. The court, which was hearing a plea by faculty members, passed the interim order after hearing submissions of the teachers and the JNU authorities. It listed the matter for further hearing on October 10.
During the hearing, the teachers’ counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, apprised the court that they had sent individual responses to showcause notices, stating that no misconduct or violation of rules had taken place.
The petition claims the action against teachers was based on a “mala fide inquiry”. The JNU authorities had invoked the CCS (Conduct) Rules, which prohibit government servants from resorting or abetting strikes, coercion or physical duress in matters pertaining to service, and an August 9, 2017, Delhi High Court order, which prohibits students from protesting within 100 metres of the administrative block.
The plea stated that the petitioners and JNU teachers in general are not governed by the CCS (Conduct) Rules. The petition further claims that “the very application of these rules and its accompanying penalties is highly prejudicial to them”.
Explaining the reason for the protest, it said the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) had proposed to organise a protest on July 31, 2018.
On July 30, 2018, JNUTA issued a letter to the Vice Chancellor stating that it had tried to raise several genuine issues of concern and decisions taken by JNU. “However, despite its best efforts, there had been no response, dialogue or communication whatsoever from the authorities and in light of this, the teachers organised the protest march on July 31 last year,” it said.
The petition stated that “if they are subjected to the present enquiry under the CCS (Conduct) Rules, there will be a grave risk of the respondents (authorities) taking coercive steps against them…”