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JNU’s Revised Roster Puts SC/ST Candidates at Disadvantage by Omitting Backlog Seats, Say Teachers

Ravi Kaushal |
The JNU Teachers’ Association say that the re-examination of roster increased seats for SC/ST candidates but several seats that were earlier advertised as reserved seats are now being treated as unreserved.

The teachers of the country’s premier central university, Jawaharlal Nehru University, have raised serious questions over a newly prepared reservation roster -- a policy document that guides the recruitment process within an educational institution. The teachers allege that the roster, prepared after re-examination by a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court, still fail to do justice to the backlog in vacancies.

While teachers maintain that the re-examination of roster increased seats for SC/ST candidates from 38 to 44 in professors’ cadre and 55 to 82 in Associate Professors’ cadre, several seats that were earlier advertised as reserved seats are now being treated as unreserved.

The Delhi High Court, in its earlier order, said that the university “will re-visit and re-examine and re-cast the point based roster, for all posts and in the light of the judgment of the Single Judge and in accordance with the post- based reservation system” and had further directed “that if in the aforesaid exercise, any error/mistake in advertising vacancies is found, unless requisite amendments are made to advertisements No. RC/61/2019 and RC/60/2019 dated 19th August, 2019… the said advertisements, to the extent contrary to corrected point based roster, would stand quashed.”

Milap Chand Sharma, President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association, said the new recast roster does not actually indicate which of the vacancies are backlog vacancies. However, the DOPT’s Reservation Brochure mandates that whenever a roster is recast, details of backlog vacancies, if any, are to be entered in the ‘Remarks’ column. This omission leaves open room for the “same illegalities that led to the legal challenge”, to be committed again in the future.

The teachers’ association, in a statement, said that the Ministry of Education remained a mute spectator while the discrepancies were rolled out by denying the SC/ST candidates their due share. The statement said, “JNUTA had on several occasions made written submission to authorities that Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar had wilfully and deliberately sabotaged not only JNU’s own Act and Statutes, but also the national policy. Should not the Vice Chancellor be held accountable for not only endorsing a gross and serious illegality but for wasting public resources in obstinately trying to defend it? Should he not be held accountable for proving, in the process, that these mistakes were deliberate rather than inadvertent? Should not the Ministry of Education be made to explain why it took no steps to correct the evident illegality even when its attention was drawn to it repeatedly? The discovery of such gross illegality in implementation of reservations should have been sufficient reason for the resignation or removal of even a regular Vice-Chancellor and therefore it is indeed ironical that Prof Jagadesh Kumar in his capacity as the Caretaker Vice Chancellor should once again be heading the process of roster revision.”

Pradeep Shinde, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, who challenged the roster in the Delhi High Court, told NewsClick that Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar fiddled with the positions in various centres showing utmost vehemence for constitutional guarantees to the marginalised communities. He said, “We had an SC position for Associate Professor in my centre and I applied for it. To my shock, I found that the position has been converted to the Economically Weaker Section category. Later, I found that this was happening in other centres too just to accommodate the favourites of him. How could he fiddle with these positions when the constitution has suggested otherwise? It amply suggests that he worked with a casteist mindset. Second, you cannot do away with backlog vacancies. We just wish to make it clear that we would not rest until justice is delivered.”

When asked how he felt when he had to struggle even after securing a job in one of India’s most coveted universities, Shinde said, “I generally do not talk about it. My mother and father worked tirelessly to educate me as I was born in a family with humble background. After clearing the inter examinations, I worked as a construction worker to continue my studies. Later, I secured a fellowship and went to London School of Economics to complete my PhD. I taught in Germany before coming to India. After this much struggle, when you see that a hidden casteism is still denying you your fair due, you are enraged. But also have determination that you should fight and win.”

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