New Delhi: Days after warning them, the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has decided to deduct the salaries of the teachers for participating in protests. The teachers protested against the administration’s decision to scrap the old recruitment and admission policy as well as the multiple show-cause notices against students and teachers. 

The latest order came days after JNU ordered an enquiry against five teachers for “violating university rules” by addressing students outside the administration block. 

The university’s administration has banned any kind of protest within 20 meters of the building. 

In a notification issued on Thursday by JNU registrar Pramod Kumar, the university said it will invoke the principle of ‘No Work, No Pay’ under the provisions of FR 17(a) of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972 against the teachers who participated in the strike. 

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As per proviso of FR 17 “an officer who is absent from duty without any authority shall not be entitled to any pay and allowances during the period of such absence.” 

While the university’s decision has left the teachers fuming, they said have said that no such rule exists. The teachers say any deduction of salary will be “illegal” and “unwarranted.” 

Calling the university’s notification “vindictive”, Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) president Ajay Patnaik said the university has its own rules and the Central Civil Services Rules don’t apply to the central university. 

The logic of the strike, Patnaik explained, was to question the university’s unilateral decision to scrap the traditional admission and staff recruitment policy. 

“A strike is not an individual’s decision. There’s a general body meeting where all the teachers and their representatives debate and discuss issues concerning. Aren’t teachers and students supposed to raise issues which are damaging for a premier institution like JNU?” Patnaik said. 

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Prof Nandita Narain, president of the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Associations, argued that since Central Civil Service Rules don’t apply to universities, “any deduction of salary for strike will be illegal and unwarranted.” 

“University Grants Commission has adopted certain service rules for the teachers but there’s no such disciplinary provision where you can slash a teacher’s salary for going on a strike. Besides, strike is a token form of protest to collectively assert a position towards a certain issue. It’s totally democratic,” Narain told ScoopWhoop News.  

Responding to the this, a JNU official told ScoopWhoop News “the varsity implements central service rules in scenarios where the university rules are absent.”

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Since the disappearance of 26-year-old student Najeeb Ahmad from the campus in October last year, the university has seen students and teachers at loggerheads with administration on almost daily basis. 

In order to contain student protests against university’s new admission and recruitment policy, the administration has served multiple show cause notices and suspended 11 students for allegedly “disrupting” academic functioning of the university. 

On Tuesday, JNU teachers also began an open-sky lecture series on “Democracy and Social Justice” outside the administration building as a form of protest. 

“This is part of the larger pattern to change the basic character of the university. The university is resorting to various intimidating tactics against students and teachers for expressing dissent,” Nivedita Menon, a professor of comparative politics at JNU’s School of International Studies (SIS) told ScoopWhoop News.

Menon, who’s one of the five teachers against whom JNU has initiated an inquiry, said it’s the first time in JNU’s history that a rule has been invoked to ban protest demonstrations withing 20 metres of the administrative buildings. 

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Highlighting a procedural flaw in implementing the provisions of FR 17(a) of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, Menon said “in order to enforce the provision, the university has to notify in advance that if any teacher indulges in strike, then their pay and allowances for the day won’t be paid.” 

There was no such official communication from the administration ahead of the strike.  

The JNU Students’ Union has also thrown its support behind the teachers. 

“The VC is not doing anything in his individual capacity. He’s just following orders from his BJP-RSS bosses in HRD ministry. This is not a separate issue. First they brought police in the campus, suspended students for protesting against Najeeb, then installed grills and flower pots on the protest site,” Left-dominated JNUSU President Mohit Pandey told ScoopWhoop News.

“Now, the administration has gone against teachers,” he said. 

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