Statement by JNU Teachers Association
Eastern Times, New Delhi : The Delhi High Court, in two separate matters has nullified as illegal, arbitrary decisions made by Prof. Jagadesh Kumar in his capacity as Vice Chancellor, JNU. In the first case, the court ordered immediate payment of leave encashment at the rate of 9 percent interest to a retired faculty whose entitlement had been withheld by the university on the orders of the Vice Chancellor for no plausible reason.
The second matter relates to the decision to appoint 9 Chairpersons taken at the 296th meeting of the JNU Executive Council on 2 September 2021. The court in this case ruled that the Vice Chancellor had no authority to take the above decisions, as the University Statute explicitly gave the powers of making such appointments to the Executive Council. In its Order, the court barred all 9 Chairpersons from taking any major decisions, including functions relating to convening of selection committees and/or carrying out selection(s), concerning their Centres.
In both cases, it may be noted the Vice Chancellor took the decisions despite being sufficiently warned about the illegalities by elected Executive Council members.
More significantly the Vice Chancellor also chose to ignore previous High Court orders passed on the matter of stoppage of pension and associated benefits as well the appointment of Chairpersons, as illegal and arbitrary. For example, on the matter of payment of pensions, in its Order on the Writ filed W.P.(C) 10619/2019 & CM APPL. 43857& 43858/2019 passed on 23.11.2020, the High Court that clearly stated that pension is neither a bounty nor a matter of grace depending upon the sweet will of the employer.
Yet, the Vice chancellor continued to deny certain retired faculty their dues on arbitrary grounds that the court found to be legally untenable. Prof. Rajat Datta who passed away on 30 October was one such faculty whose retirement benefits were withheld by the Vice Chancellor, at a time when he was physically battling cancer. As of today, there are several retired faculty who have been denied their retirement benefits because of the malafide directions issued by the Vice Chancellor. On the matter of appointment of Chairpersons also, there is a similar precedence of cases.
For example, through an order passed on 27.4.2018 in W.P.(C) 3462/2018, the Delhi High Court reinstated one Dean and four Chairpersons who had illegally been removed by the Vice Chancellor for not agreeing to a decision to impose mandatory attendance for students.
In another case, dated 29.07.2019 in W.P. (C) 8168/2019, the High Court set aside the Vice Chancellor’s order of 18.2.2019 appointing the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association New Delhi-110067 Chairperson of the Centre of Linguistics and directed the JNU Executive Council to appoint a new Chairperson “in accordance with practice and the law”. More recently, in an Order passed by the Delhi High Court in W.P.(C) 6846/2021, CM No. 21642/2021 on 17 September 2021, the university was asked to appoint a new chairperson from within the faculty of the Centre after the appointment made by the Vice Chancellor was revoked.
JNUTA condemns in the strongest words the arbitrary behaviour of Prof. Jagadesh Kumar who has time and again shown complete disrespect for university processes in his haste to implement his personal agenda rather than what is in the academic interest of the university.
He has also misused his position to harass multiple faculty members who have resisted his illegalities. And while the recent High Court orders have come as a great relief to the members of the academic community, it remains to be seen if the Vice Chancellor rectifies his illegalities or continues to brazen it out in the belief that he is a law unto himself and that court orders are meant to be ignored. The silence maintained by the Ministry of Education with respect to the illegalities committed by him too needs to be questioned.
By not taking action against this errant Vice Chancellor they have virtually allowed him to have a free reign at the cost of the University. The repeated violations have been a huge drain on the university finance as it is the university funds that are being used to pay his legal team to defend his malafide actions. While daily wage workers and contractual staff, scholarship holding students and academic programs suffer due to financial mismanagement of the Vice Chancellor, he continues to function with impunity, to run his vindictive and corrupt administration.