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HC stays JNU circular mandating marking of attendance by faculty

HC stays JNU circular mandating marking of attendance by faculty
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The Delhi High Court Monday stayed a circular issued by the JNU administration making it mandatory for the faculty to mark attendance, failing which...

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday stayed a circular issued by the JNU administration making it mandatory for the faculty to mark attendance, failing which no leave requests or their proposals will be considered, even if it is to attend conferences and seminars abroad.

Justice Suresh Kait stayed the operation of the November 13, 2018 circular of the authorities and sought response of Jawaharlal Nehru University on a plea by a teacher challenging the circular. The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 3. The petition challenging the circular was filed by professor Archana Prasad from the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies who had to attend a conference in South Africa from December 6-16, 2018 and she sent a leave application on October 9 last year but the university administration declined it relying on the November 13 circular. She again requested for leave on December 13, 2018 on receiving an invitation from The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies for a programme from January 21 to 25.

Prasad applied for leave from January 20 to 27 but it was again rejected on January 2 on the grounds of "not following attendance rules". On Monday, the court directed the JNU to grant her leaves within three days to attend the programme. Senior advocate Rebecca John, who appeared for Prasad, sought quashing of the November 13 circular and said her leave applications were for a legitimate academic purpose and they were blindly rejected for non-compliance with the faculty attendance rule.

The petition, filed through advocate Maanav Kumar, said the rule was illegal and ought to be set aside so as to prevent the arbitrary and excessive exercise of power by the authorities. It said Prasad's leave requests were bonafide and denial of leave on the basis of faculty attendance was "unreasonable, arbitrary and discriminatory." Central government standing counsel Monika Arora, appearing for the JNU, said as per the rules of University Grants Commission and JNU, it is mandatory for teachers to mark their attendance.

She said it is in the interest of teachers and students to mark their attendances. On November 13, Registrar Pramod Kumar took out a circular which read: "All proposals/ requests of faculty members, including leave requests, should be forwarded by the Deans and Chairpersons of the School/Centre/Special Centre concerned for consideration of competent authority, only after confirming that the faculty member concerned has adhered to the attendance rules of the university and has been marking his/her attendance.

"While forwarding request/ paper/ proposal of faculties, it has to be ensured by the Deans of Schools/ Chairperson of Centres/ Special Centres that the faculty concerned has been taking attendance of students as well. As desired by the competent authority, no request/ paper/ proposal of faculty will be entertained/ considered if he/ she has not adhered to the above decisions of statutory bodies."

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