High Court stays mandatory marking of attendance for JNU faculty
The Delhi high court Friday stayed the mandatory marking of attendance for teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)as decided by the academic and the executive council in July last year. The court stated that action against teachers for irregular attendance can be taken in accordance with laid down rules.
“..decision taken on July 13, 2018, in 146 A meeting of the Academic Council qua item ‘any other’, and approval of Executive Council dated August 23, 2018 in minutes of 275th meeting qua item 6.9 shall remained stayed,” justice Suresh Kait said.
“Any subsequent decisions/proceedings pursuant to the decision taken in the two meetings have also been stayed by the court,” he added.
The court’s order came while hearing a plea by two faculty members — Ayesha Kidwai and Pratiksha Baxi— who had challenged the mandatory marking of attendance. The HC also sought the response of the varsity on the plea.
On Friday, the single judge bench said the university can take action against teachers going on unauthorised leave, according to the rules prevalent before the decision of marking attendance was made mandatory.
Appearing for Kidwai, senior advocate Dhruv Mehta informed the court that the two councils did not follow proper procedure while taking the decision. Linking it to the privacy of a person, he said asking for biometrics amounted to breach of privacy of an individual.
Countering this, advocate Monika Arora, standing counsel for the Centre, submitted that if marking of attendance was not mandatory, then it would be difficult to ensure the presence of the teaching faculty as many of them go on vacation for months together. She also alleged that several students have complained about the long-term absence of teaching staff.
JNU teachers association (JNUTA) welcomed the decision. “JNUTA has been continuously pointing out that the decision-making processes in JNU under the current management has been marred by procedural violations and goes against the spirit of democratic governance that are critical requirements for a university. JNUTA is glad that this is being increasingly recognised and we are hopeful that with the support of the public at large, the process of destruction of a public university unleashed by the current administration will be stalled and reversed,” JNUTA secretary Avinash Kumar said.
The matter would be now heard on May 3.