JNU teachers’ association alleges harassment over leave request, calls policy ‘arbitrary’

JNUTA said it was “extremely dismayed to learn that the 300th EC did not deliberate on the leave requests of these eight colleagues”.

JNUTA said there had been a “continuing problem of delay/denial in granting academic leave” to teachers “using various flimsy and illegal pretexts”. (File photo)

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) has denounced the administration for ‘harassing’ teachers, alleging that eight faculty members’ leave requests were referred to a newly formed ‘leave committee’ instead of being discussed. and adopted by the Executive Council (EC).

They demanded that the EC “remove the resolutions setting up this leave committee process” and that an “emergency EC be convened to consider the pending leave requests of these eight colleagues”.

They said they were “apprehensive” that “the unstated purpose of this new procedure is to dilute the power of the various authorities instituted by the JNU Act and to introduce an undesirable centralization of the decision-making process within the office of the VC”. JNUTA said there had been a “continuing problem of delay/denial in granting academic leave” to teachers “using various flimsy and illegal pretexts”.

“JNUTA had hoped that with the change of administration, this era of punishment through procrastination and arbitrariness would end. To his dismay, however, he sees only the continuation of the same harassment… Eight JNU professors were again victims of arbitrary decision-making by the JNU Executive Council at its 300th meeting held on May 5 2022. Five of these applications were for sabbatical leave (for the purpose of writing books/research monographs) and three for extraordinary leave (for the purpose of accepting research fellowships). In accordance with JNU orders and practice, end-of-life and sabbatical leave requests are decided by the Executive Council,” JNUTA said in a statement.

They said they were “extremely dismayed to learn that the 300th EC did not deliberate on the leave requests of these eight colleagues”.

For leave requests, the EC minutes read: “Resolved to authorize the Vice-Chancellor to appoint a leave committee to review/consider requests for sabbatical leave, educational leave, Extra-Ordinary Leave (EOL) and other long-term leaves received from the faculty Members and the Leave Committee shall submit its recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor who may either grant a leave or refer the matter to the Executive Council, depending on what he deems appropriate”.

JNUTA said it was “unable to understand why these applications, all submitted in a timely manner, all duly approved by the centers and the president/dean of the schools concerned and all approved by the academic branch (which assists the EC by providing relevant factual information), were not discussed and decided by the EC”.

“JNU administration will surely be aware that the requirement that no more than 20% of faculty may be on extended leave at a time implies that faculty at the center level must plan for sabbatical/ of EOL study/leave years in advance, so introducing a new hoop for faculty to step through in the system has an impact that goes far beyond the individual and has a cascading effect at the Centre/School. Finally, lost/delayed opportunities for scholarships or delayed research publications only harm the research profile of the university and its position in national and international rankings,” JNUTA added.

When contacted, Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said: “It’s just to rationalise. There is no change. The committee will recommend and it (permission) will be granted.

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