Academic leave: impediments and delays

JNUTA’s letter to the VC on 22 april 2022

Dear Prof. Pandit,

Recent events in the university and in the High Court of Delhi compel us to register our concern at the unnecessary and unwarranted impediments and delays that teachers, and particularly our younger colleagues, are facing in availing academic leave for pursuing research and further study.

We are dismayed that the prevailing attitude is one that resembles the approach of the preceding administration, which obstructed the professional and career development of JNU teachers. The impediments ranged from institutional—such as the bypassing of consultative and participative university governance — to motivated inquiries and the denial of leave that the teachers were entitled to. To make matters worse, the usual institutional mechanisms that were ordinarily the route for resolution of such issues within the University were either dismantled or made defunct. In most cases, this resulted in the courts being the only recourse left available to teachers as the means by which they could avail the rights due to them as employees, as encoded in the JNU Act, Statutes, and Ordinances. This recourse to the legal route has of course been made at great mental and financial cost to the teachers concerned. The fact that in case after case, the Hon. High Court of Delhi has consistently upheld the legitimacy of the grievances the teachers brought to it, has brought only harm to the reputation of JNU, casting it as an institution in which its administrative decisions were made in a partisan fashion, taking into consideration factors other than an academic rationale.

As we have outlined in our past emails to you, we are hopeful of a positive change after your appointment as the Vice Chancellor, primarily because you are acquainted with and recognize the importance of the founding principles of this University. We are, however, extremely disappointed that in matters of academic leave, the experiences of teachers in the past month have been far from desirable. The leave applications of several teachers have been delayed based on flimsy grounds. Delays in attending a time-bound academic programme is often as good as denial. While some teachers have been forced to opt for earned leave which are encashable, others have been forced to approach the courts. Some others are waiting for months for their applications to be placed in the Executive Council meeting. As you can well appreciate, such hurdles make it very hard for teachers to engage in academic pursuits and collaborations, which adds value to not only their individual careers, but also to the University at large. You have spoken with some degree of pride in a recent interview about JNU’s excellent QS ranking in social sciences, languages and humanities. We are sure that you understand that the experiences of teachers as we have just outlined above are utterly inconsistent with academic excellence of any kind.

It is therefore our request to you to make sincere efforts to ameliorate this hostile working environment for JNU teachers. Clear instructions to the concerned officials that leave applications must be processed in a timely manner, with adequate respect for the faculty member’s time and academic commitments, should be issued from your office. We continue to wait in anticipation for an appointment with you to discuss these and other important issues that concern all teachers and the University.

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