MOTION OF NO-CONFIDENCE IN THE HIGH LEVEL ENQUIRY

Adopted at the Assembly of Teachers at the Administrative Block at 4.00 pm on March 9

This Motion of No-confidence in the High Level Enquiry instituted in the background of the incidents of 9th February 2016 is moved in view of the University Administration repeatedly ignoring the pleas for establishing a credible enquiry process which would inspire confidence in teachers and students, particularly given the sensitive nature of the case at hand.

As per Statute 32 (5), the University has a Proctorial system where administration of student related matters pertaining to all acts of indiscipline are delegated to the Chief Proctor. The Chief Proctor and two additional proctors assisting the Chief Proctor constitute the Proctorial Board. It is the Proctorial Board which first considers any complaint to ascertain if it pertains to the jurisdiction of Proctorial Enquiry. A Proctorial Enquiry Committee is set up to conduct an in depth investigation into the matter and detailed norms and procedures to be followed in such an enquiry have been evolved and notified. For reasons that the University Administration has not explained till date, this normal process of enquiry was first initiated on 11th February 2016 but was short circuited the very same day when the Proctorial Enquiry Committee was superseded by the three-member High Level Enquiry Committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor. The specific terms of reference of this extraordinary committee and the norms and procedures applicable to its proceedings were not notified then or even subsequently. The HLEC was, however, asked to submit its report by 25th February, a deadline which was subsequently extended. Clearly upholding the principle of natural justice was not a priority of the University Administration.

The suspicion that the hasty decision to switch to an ad hoc process of enquiry was because of pressure from forces outside the University was further confirmed by the decision of the University to suspend eight students from academic activities, supposedly on the basis of the recommendation of the HLEC given less than 24 hours after its constitution. No serious examination of even the prima facie evidence could have been done so quickly – and this has only become clearer over time as more and more evidence, both video and testimonial, initially touted as damning by those whose only interest was to attack JNU has been now shown to be not only suspect but even fabricated and false. The state of the evidence is also indicated by the fact that a member of the HELC has admitted to the media that they do not have full names of students whom they wish to invite to depose before the Committee, and have therefore, for instance, had to invite all the 22 Anjalis on campus. Even the order of academic suspension, issued even before the students had any opportunity to present the case, was characterized by vagueness – it did not spell out which of the four different listed charges each of the students was prima facie found to be guilty of by the HLEC.

No reason has ever been provided to justify why the suspension of students from academic activities was considered necessary. Since it is hard to think of how such a suspension could ‘facilitate’ the enquiry process, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the University Administration connived in the process of conducting a witch-hunt which even led to some of the students being charged sedition and criminal conspiracy and spending time in jail.

Despite all that has been stated above, the teachers of the University were still willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the University’s enquiry process provided some important concerns were addressed. The teachers urged a broadening of the committee, but this was initially ignored and then acted upon only in a limited way. More crucially, revoking of the suspension of the students and beginning of the enquiry afresh did not accompany the reconstitution of the HLEC. The terms of reference remained undeclared. Very importantly no effort was forthcoming from the University Administration to get the cases of sedition and criminal conspiracy against students withdrawn. Instead the Acting Registrar, whose bias and prejudice has been visible from the beginning, has been allowed to continue in office and influence the course of the enquiry. This continues to be the state despite the repeated pleas from the JNUTA and one week after even the second revised deadline for the submission of the HLEC report has passed. The continued intransigence of the University Administration on these questions betrays the fact that establishing the credibility of its enquiry process is not an objective it wants to be bothered with. What then, one is forced to ask, is the overriding objective guiding the University Administration’s decisions?

That what has gone on since 11th February in the name of the University’s enquiry can only be called a travesty is beyond doubt – neither an honest uncovering of the truth nor the upholding of the principle of natural justice can be outcomes of that process. This has been the feeling within the University for some time and since the University Administration has made it clear that it will do nothing to remove that feeling, this house today is left with no option but to adopt a motion expressing its complete lack of confidence in the ‘High Level Enquiry’.

With these words, this motion of no-confidence is placed before this august house for its approval.

 

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