The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration has been denying leave to several teachers, even if it is to attend conferences and seminars abroad. The reason — they’re not marking their own attendance or submitting attendance records of their students.
The university had faced severe backlash from students as well as teachers for making 75% attendance mandatory. Despite this, JNU made marking attendance compulsory for teachers as well. JNU students had also filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against imposition of mandatory attendance. The matter is sub-judice.
On November 13, Registrar Pramod Kumar made the move official through a circular. “All proposals/requests of faculty members, including leave requests, should be forwarded by the Deans and Chairpersons of the School/Centre/Special Centre concerned for consideration of competent authority, only after confirming that the faculty member concerned has adhered to the attendance rules of the university and has been marking his/her attendance.”
“While forwarding request/ paper/proposal of faculties, it has to be ensured by the Deans of Schools/ Chairperson of Centres/Special Centres that the faculty concerned has been taking attendance of students as well. As desired by the competent authority, no request/paper/proposal of faculty will be entertained/considered if he/she has not adhered to the above decisions of statutory bodies,” it said.
Professor Archana Prasad from the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies is to attend a conference in South Africa from December 6-16. She sent a leave application on October 9.
After two reminders, on November 9, she received an email from the Academic Branch, saying the “request may be considered only after the faculty member confirms that he/she is signing the attendance register and taking attendance of students in the courses he/she is teaching”. “I responded saying this was completely illegal,” said Prasad.
Professor Ritu Priya Mehrotra from the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health faced the same problem when she had to travel to Dhaka from November 15-19 for a world health convention. “I had applied at the end of October, but did not hear from them. Just a few days before my leave, I called up to find out the status of the application. I was told they would only process it if I submitted attendance sheets. I refused to sign and didn’t get my leave,” she said.
The JNU Teachers’ Association called it an “arbitrary decision” and said the circular was not drawn from any provision of the JNU Act, statutes and ordinances and was “without any lawful substance”. Reiterating the circular, Registrar Kumar said, “The Executive Council has adopted mandatory attendance; teachers not marking attendance are being denied leaves.”