Agenda 1 isn’t over yet, and reconvene the 143rd AC after the vacations: 29 faculty members wrote to the JNU VC on 11 May

Dear Prof. Kumar

This is to express our grave distress at the manner in which you refused to record the overwhelming opinion of the house on the first Agenda item of the Part A Meeting of the 143rd Academic Council and then abruptly adjourned the meeting and left the room.
No member of the 143rd AC asked for such an adjournment, and all of the undersigned were more than ready to continue with the meeting. Your adjournment, without any explanation and without asking for the concurrence of the members, was both improper and unbecoming.

The reason why five hours were spent on Agenda 1 was your insistence for the first two hours that the only reason why an Agenda Item for the confirmation of the Minutes exists is for members to ask for clarifications about the decisions implemented and for incorporating suggestions with regards to those. Members tried patiently to explain to you that it is only in the light of a commonly agreed record of the decisions taken can the actions you have undertaken on them can be evaluated, and that therefore a decision on whether the Minutes as circulated were confirmed was a prerequisite step. In the instant case, this was specially important because the Minutes of the 142nd AC portrayed its decisions to be the source of administrative steps leading to an 83% reduction of intake, large scale violation of reservation policies, abandoning of JNU’s unique affirmative action measures and the imposition of a cent per cent weightage on the entrance viva voce examination.

When all attempts to divert the discussion from this Agenda Item were thwarted by AC member after member, many querying why the written objections they had sent in response to the Minutes circulated for comments in January had not been brought onto the record, you declared that you will count only 9 of the letters you received, because they came before 19 January 2017. You also stated that you had excluded objections if the person who was a signatory to the objections was not the same person who had attended the 142nd AC meeting. You will recall that you had called the 142nd AC meeting in the winter vacations (in violation of the JNU Regulation M1, Clause 3.3), ex-officio members like Deans and Chairpersons had sent in their nominees, following established practice. Any objections/comments that are subsequently sent in from these members are based on consultation with the nominee both prior and subsequent to the Minutes, and are always accepted.

That Minutes of meetings are only confirmed on the floor of the subsequent meeting should be known to you, as this is standard practice (as an example, see the attached document from our neighbour IIT Delhi). As Chairperson of the Academic Council, you do not have a right to pick and choose which objections you will entertain because the Minutes are the collective property of the house (although you may have of course brought your position to it and asked members to vote on your exclusion motion). There still nevertheless remains the issue of why you did not circulate even the objections you considered valid in advance or bring them onto the record prior to meeting.

You then ruled that discussion would be allowed on the Minutes, barring items 3, 4, and 5, 8 because these matters are sub judice. Members reminded that you that there are no orders that stay the AC’s discussion of these matters, and if this was the administration’s reading, then all and any action on matters that came under such items (admission schedule, intake, eligibility criteria, and weightage of written entrance test to viva voce, deprivation points, and admission policy) should be deemed to be stayed as well.

Ayesha Kidwai then proposed a motion for amendments to the Minutes of Items 3,4,5,7, and 8 which you refused to entertain, saying that members cannot move motions to significantly amend the minutes. You then asked each member present in the House to speak their opinion on whether
the Minutes should be deemed passed and whether we should move on to the next agenda. Each member spoke, and 44 members stated that the Minutes cannot be deemed passed and the Minutes can and must be amended to reflect all objections received, whether stated on the floor of the meeting or at any point or in advance of it. Only 20 members spoke from the contrary viewpoint.

At the end of nearly three hours of the house airing its opinion, however, you chose to ignore the overwhelming opinion of the house, you ruled that the Minutes were passed and nine notes of dissent would appended to the Minutes. You did not put the motion before the house – the  proposed amendments to Items 3,4,5, 7 and 8 to vote, and then unilaterally decided to adjourn the meeting and beat a hasty exit.  

We are writing to you to communicate the following:

  1. Agenda 1 of the Part A meeting is incomplete, as the motion for amendments to the Minutes has not been put to vote.
  2. Further, the Minutes of the Part A Meeting of the 142nd Academic Council cannot be deemed to be passed.
  3. The adjournment of the Part A Meeting of the 143rd Academic Council was not on the members’ request or with their approval.
  4. The 143rd Academic Council must be reconvened on the 12th of May 2017, so that there is no violation of the JNU Regulation M1, Clause 3.3.
  5. Finally, if the adjourned meeting is not reconvened on the 12th of May, no meeting should be called in the period denoted as “Summer Vacations” in the JNU Academic Calendar.

Yours truly

Saradindu Bhaduri, Raman P. Sinha, Udaya Kumar, Supriya Sabbani, Saumen Chattopadhyay, Dhir Sarangi, Amir Ali, Babu Thaliath, Pradeep Shinde, G. Arunima, Ayesha Kidwai, Manindra Nath Thakur, Nivedita Menon, B.S. Butola, Arvind K. Mishra, Riddhi Shah, Nilika Mehrotra, Ajoy Karnati, H.S. Shivaprakash, Rohini Muthuswami, Kunal Chakraborty, Rajat Dutta, Ramila Bisht, D.K. Lobiyal, Anupama Roy, Meenu Bhatnagar, Bishnupriya Dutta, Charanjit Singh, Ajay Kumar

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