The JNUTA condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Jamia Vice-Chancellor to: (1) declare the ongoing Jamia Teachers Association elections null and void (2) place the Returning Officer, an esteemed and long-serving faculty member of the University, under suspension 3) dissolve the present Jamia Teachers Association with immediate effect, (4) constitute a Committee to look into the alleged imperfections of the bye-laws/Constitution of the JTA.
The JNUTA protests this autocratic and repressive conduct by the university administration, which through unconscionable administrative overreach, is a naked attempt to annihilate the democratic rights of our teacher colleagues in Jamia Millia Islamia, and in particular, the Constitutional guarantees to the right to association.
From what JNUTA has learnt, the relevant factual information is as follows:
- By the Constitution of the JTA, which is a 68 year old association of the teachers of the university, elections to the JTA executive body are held every two years. As per the body’s by-laws, a Returning Officer (RO) has to be appointed to conduct the election of a new executive. The notification appointing Prof. Sonya Surabhi Gupta as RO was issued on 19 October, who subsequently notified the polling date to be 25 November.
- On 7 November, Prof. Gupta was issued a letter by the Registrar JMI objecting to her acting as RO for the election on the grounds that “a permanent employee is required to obtain prior approval of the Competent Authority before taking any other assignment” other than her normal duties.
- On 10 and 14 November 2022, the Registrar issued two other show-cause letters on behalf of the Competent Authority that also directed her to step down from the post of RO, paying no heed to Prof. Gupta’s reasoned explanations of the past history of the JTA elections and the lack of conflict with any rules or regulations of the university.
- On 17 November, besides serving (separately) Prof. Gupta with a suspension order, the Registrar issued an office order quashing the election notification issued by her, dissolving the JTA executive because its term has ended, and constituting the aforementioned Committee so that a fresh notification for “the transparent and smooth conduct of the election of JTA can be made at the earliest following due process” (sic).
The JNUTA sees the unlawful suspension of Prof. Gupta, the illegal dissolution of the JTA executive, and the imposition of a Committee that will effectively rewrite the JTA constitution, as a naked attempt at a coup of the teachers’ movement by the Jamia administration. The sole and highest decision making body of the JTA is its General Body, and no university administration has the legal right to seek to tamper with its deliberations or resolutions. Be it to tamper with a free and fair election process or a more insidious attempt to silence critical questioning and dissent in the movement, the impact of this authoritarian trampling of democracy shall by no means be restricted to just Jamia alone, as it is in keeping with the New Education Policy’s initiative to vest the office of the Vice Chancellor with overweening power. If the Jamia coup is allowed to succeed, the teachers movement in the country will be immeasurably weakened.
The JNUTA stands in complete solidarity with the teachers of Jamia and assures the JTA of all possible support.