Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union 2016-17
Yesterday, the 143rd AC meeting which was adjourned on 9th May 2017, was reconvened. Despite the repeated appeals from the students’ union office bearers and faculty members to not hold the AC meeting during the semester break, the Vice Chancellor deliberately held the Academic Council during the vacation. The intention of conducting such an important meeting during summer vacation was clear. It was another way of bulldozing the agenda of administration into the campus community. But despite such intentions, within the Academic council, the majority was against the authoritarian intentions of the Vice Chancellor. A democratically conducted meeting would not have allowed the diktats of the Vice chancellor to be passed in the meeting. But true to his history, the meeting was conducted in the most undemocratic manner with no discussion happening over the different agendas in the meeting.
The VC not only disallowed anyone to register dissent but also went ahead with his bulldozing tactics by reading agenda items( VC and the registrar read the agendas ) and announced it as passed with certain faculty members clapping each time when the VC announced an agenda. No discussion or voting took place with respect to any agenda. In short, the 143rd adjourned AC was held without any deliberation. It was conducted by completely violating the democratic rights of the Academic Council members.
The contestation in the meeting began when the VC announced 142nd AC minutes as confirmed. This was despite the fact that it was not confirmed by the overwhelming majority of members of the AC on 9th May. The VC not only restricted members to opine but also refused to record our dissent on every agenda item.
When the JNUSU representatives and other teachers pointed out these authoritarian moves on the part of VC, some faculty members supportive of the administration even stooped to the level of physically chasing and heckling the students’ representatives. There was no space for deliberation and reasoned debates inside. Even after the repeated appeals by us, the VC went ahead with the agendas without even registering our dissent. The faculty members who were part of the AC namely Atul Johari and Ashwini Mahapatra physically heckled JNUSU Joint Secretary Tabrez Hassan, held him by his collar. Similarly, other students representative were also silenced by shouting and through various threats and intimidation tactics. In continuity to all these serious attacks on students’ representative, the VC and the cohorts threatened us by saying that they will throw us out of the meeting if we raised questions. It is completely unclear why Atul Johri was called for the meeting. He is not a member of the Academic Council. He was called in yesterday’s meeting as a special invitee. Considering that yesterday’s meeting was an adjourned one, there was no need for new special invitees. We highly doubt that his presence in the meeting was meant only to disrupt its activities.
It was a total chaos and severe breach of the atmosphere for deliberation. After passing all the agendas without discussion and debate, the VC in a very authoritarian manner concluded the meeting part A, declared the agendas as passed and without even registering our note of dissent.
Extremely important agenda items like Intake of M.Phil/PhD programme, Viva Voce weightage , Nafey Committee Recommendations, Center for disaster management, special center for yoga philosophy were all passed without any discussion in the meeting. Also, none of the students demand were taken up and discussed by the Vice Chancellor.
In last meeting (9th may), the University administration had called a person to record the meeting and the administration had promised that they will make proceedings public. But no such action was undertaken in yesterday’s meeting. Also they have not made the recordings of May 9th meeting public since many faculty members were critical of the administration and had demanded discussions with respect to every agenda.
The undemocratic nature of the meeting is clear from the statement of the registrar himself regarding yesterday’s incidents. He points that “A very small group of teachers with student representatives repeatedly pressed the demands to speak on each and every item”. Basically, deliberations and discussions which are the basic democratic rights of the Academic Council members need not be respected. We really do not understand why conduct a meeting if members cannot opine about different agendas.
The JNUSU members inside the meeting were successful in capturing several disruptive moments inside the Academic Council. These are clear evidences pointing at the high-handed and authoritarian manner in which it was conducted.
All this is being done in order to have an edge in the case pending in the high court which is to reconvene the 142 AC meeting as its minutes were morphed. The high court took it into cognizance and stayed the judgment of the single bench in favour students and teachers’.
We in strongest words possible condemn the highhandedness and authoritarianism of the JNU VC and the physical attacks on students’ representatives. In the procedures of JNU no decisions can be passed in such highhandedness, and it amounts to a breach of procedures and violation of the rules and norms of the university. In the coming days, the students will fight back all these anti-student policies being imposed by the VC in authoritarian manner. We will also fight against the physical threats and intimidations. Our political and legal battle against the authoritarian JNU administration will continue.