Rejecting the demands for his resignation, Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, at the centre of the unrest at JNU, indicated that he was ready to take a “lenient” view on disciplinary proceedings against students if they participated in the pending proctorial inquiries.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Kumar said: “The V-C has the discretionary power to waive any punishment or reduce the punishment… We will be flexible, if you come and explain to the chief proctor’s office. If an offence is established, if a punishment is given by the chief proctor, we will definitely look at it, possibly in a lenient way.”
He, however, indicated that he was not going to suspend the proctorial inquiries against around 300 students, on various issues.
“The inquiry process is the process of the university. That process has to go on… As per our ordinances and regulations, inquiry has to be conducted, and only when the punishment is given, as an appellate authority, I can take a lenient view,” he said.
With the university seeing protests since November, when the administration announced its decision to hike the hostel fees, the issue of academic suspension has emerged as a fresh sticking point between students and the administration.
While the HRD ministry has stepped into broker a peace deal, the students, led by JNUSU representatives, signalled last week that they were willing to end their call for a boycott of registration for the winter semester, but few irritants remain. These include around 300 students being barred from registering, ostensibly on the ground of disciplinary inquiries pending against them in the proctor’s office.
According to JNUSU leaders, this violated the understanding reached with the ministry, which reportedly asked the JNU administration to take a “lenient view”.
“We have done whatever maximum is possible. It is now time for the agitating students to abandon their rigid stand and appreciate the efforts made by the JNU administration, let the thousands of students study and let them also come and become part of the forward march of this university,” said Kumar.
Rejecting the demands for his resignation, the V-C said: “But, for what? What sin did I commit? This is what I would like to ask. Why are you trying to vilify me? Why are you trying to demonise me so much? All that we did during the last four years is keep the future of this university on our mind”.
He said he was always ready to meet the JNUSU elected representatives, even as he cited legal irritants to notifying the elections.