In a sudden move, Delhi University has put a blanket ban on the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff in its 32 affiliated colleges in the absence of regular principals.
In a letter addressed to the chairpersons of governing bodies, Assistant Registrar (Colleges) Naresh Kumar said the university has decided that “in case of colleges/institutions wherever acting/officiating principal is in position until the appointment of regular principal, no appointment of teaching and non-teaching be allowed to be made either on contract, ad-hoc or regular basis till regular principal is appointed by the governing body in terms of clause 7(2) of ordinance XVIII of the university.”
The letter added, “It is, therefore, once again categorically conveyed to take expeditious action in convening the meeting of the selection committee for making appointment of regular principal of the college in terms of clause 7(2) of ordinance XVIII of the university and in the meantime to keep hold on matters with regard to the appointment of teaching and non-teaching posts on contract, ad hoc, guest and regular basis. It is reiterated that in case any action whatsoever is taken in filling up the teaching and non-teaching posts either on contract, ad hoc, guest or on regular basis, the same shall, ab-initio, be treated as null and void.”
The decision has invoked sharp criticism from teachers’ groups who allege that the halt will further intensify the recruitment crisis plaguing the university for the previous two decades. The groups estimate that the university currently has a vacancy of 4500 faculty posts, which are largely being filled through ad-hoc teachers. Additionally, the move may act as a breaker given the directions of the University Grants Commission to fill all sanctioned posts under OBC reservation.
Abha Dev Habib, Former, Executive Council Member and Secretary, Democratic Teachers’ Front, told NewsClick that the move could cripple the colleges as the studies for the second semester are still going on. She said, “Putting a blanket ban on appointments, including guest teachers, is akin to crippling them. If a college needs guest teachers to teach students in midst of the semester, how will it manage the vaccum? However, we are also concerned if this freeze is actually meant to implement the new education policy. The university has already adopted NEP. Why would the university recruit teachers for old courses when it has made its intent clear that there would be new courses with multiple entry and exit points. So, the halt on recruitment may be crippling.”
The decision has been vehemently opposed by the Academics for Action and Development (AAD), which said that stopping appointments of teaching and non-teaching employees is not in accordance with the federal nature, principles, norms and practices of this hundred-year-old university.
In a letter addressed to Professor Yogesh Singh, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, Executive Council member Seema Das said, “The said letter (sent by DU) has all the potential to further affect adversely the quality of the teaching-learning process in colleges which are already short-staffed. The delay in the permanent appointments of the principals due to various extraneous reasons must not result in a situation where imparting instructions in colleges is impaired. It should also be noted here that the Ordinance XVIII- 7 (3) states that an Acting /Officiating Principal is to ‘act as the Principal’ ‘in case of a casual vacancy in the office of the Principal’. Accordingly, the appointments are allowed as and when the requirements arise, even in case of Acting/Officiating Principals holding the chair. As they are performing all other duties of the principals as per the statutes and the rules, such selective ban by the administration seems unnecessary.”
She added, “The letter (sent by DU) also annuls the appointments with retrospective effect. Such steps shall unnecessarily penalise the concerned employees, including the teaching staff, with no fault of their own. Hence, the said letter dated 18.5.2022 needs to be reviewed without any delay.”
Hansraj Suman, President of Delhi Teachers’ Association, which is backed by the Aam Aadmi Party, told NewsClick that the freeze comes as a disappointment to candidates from SC/ST/OBC backgrounds who were looking forward to their appointment during the second tranche of OBC reservation. UGC, Ministry of Education, and Parliamentary Committees have already directed the university to expedite the process of recruitment.
Suman said, “The university has to fill the vacancies under the second tranche of OBC expansion before the commencement of academic session 2022-23. Additionally, we will see retirements of several teachers from March to July this year, and it is unclear how colleges will fill these seats. I am also apprehensive if this is a repetition of the 2013 episode where the university terminated more than a thousand posts of SC/ST under the 1997 roster on 27.9.2013 after the university announced a new roster.”
The move seems to have enraged university employees as well and they maintain that the measure is only to delay the regular appointments of non-teaching staff. Aruna Kumar, President of Delhi Karamchari Federation, told NewsClick over the phone that it is unprecedented given officiating principals made the regular appointments during their tenures. She said, “The university has opted for NEP and it clearly advocates that there should be less dependence on funding agencies for operations of the colleges. If the strength of teachers will be cut, a direct impact too would come on employees. We are already witnessing a situation where our contractual employees are on the verge of retirement, and they will go to their families without any benefits on retirement. It is insanely cruel to see such a move from the university.”
Speaking to NewsClick, Devender Sharma, President of Delhi University College and Karamchari Union, said that the governing bodies should appoint the principals, given the apprehensions of lack of transparency in appointments. He said, “The university has asked governing bodies to appoint regular principals so that the onus of responsibility could be fixed. There were reports of wrong appointments in Aditi Mahavidyalaya. The university has already asked colleges to fill the vacancies till March 2023. This would ease the pressure on employees.”