The Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University on Thursday, 17 November, dissolved the present Jamia Teachers' Association (JTA), and suspended a professor, Sonya Surabhi Gupta, for issuing a notification to conduct the teachers' association election without taking permission from the competent authority.
On Friday, the now-dissolved JTA called a general body meeting (GBM) to discuss the issue, but it was cancelled after the administration allegedly issued a warning to teachers about potential repercussions for attending the meeting of the now dissolved body. The varsity alleged that the meeting was being planned to "disrupt the smooth functioning of the university".
This further deepened the rift between Jamia authorities and some teachers of the university.
Letter on the gate of JTA's office.
(Photo: The Quint)
Sealed door of JTA office.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)
JTA, which was established in 1962, has played a significant role in the welfare of teachers at Jamia, as well as teachers at all central universities in India.
JTA's office was also sealed by the university authorities.
But Why Did Professor Gupta Issue the Election Notification?
Professor Gupta, Honorary Director, Centre for European and Latin American Studies, was appointed as the returning officer (RO) by the JTA to conduct its elections, scheduled to be held on 23 November. She issued the notification of the elections on 26 October and valid nomination list was released on 16 November on the official website of Jamia Millia Islamia University.
The university, however, has contended that her appointment as RO is "unlawful" as she had not taken permission from the competent authority.
On Thursday, Jamia registrar, Nazim Husain Al Jafri, released a memo declaring the notification issued by Gupta as 'null and void' and decided to dissolve the association citing that the present teachers association tenure came to an end on 15 May 2022.
"Whatever I am doing and whatever I have done, I was doing as the member of the JTA. That's rendering my services to conduct an election, nothing more than that. I really feel that I haven't broken any rules and it was all done in good faith.Professor Sonya Surabhi Gupta
The order dissolving the present association also stated that the Jamia's Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar has been authorised to constituted a committee to look into the shortcomings of the bye-laws/constitution of the JTA and submit a report within one month so that notification of transparent and smooth conduct of the election of JTA can be issued at the earliest after following due process.
Teachers Condemn Authority
Other JTA members and professors have condemned the authority's move to dissolve the association and suspend professor Gupta.
“I believe that the teacher’s dignity has been deeply hurt by the administration. This is a drawback and very shameful for the teachers and the JTA that the administration took such a huge action against them, and they are not being able to do anything despite being such a powerful body,” said Haris Choudhary, Secretary, Jamia School Teachers’ Association.
A member of JTA, who does not wish to be named, said "Teachers were going to have their own general body meeting but Jamia administration gave an open threat and also issued a show-cause notice which is only known to me, that you have imitated to be in a position of an association which we have already dissolved, and it can harm the peaceful atmosphere of the university."
They continue, "So, suddenly we held an online JTA meeting and anyone who wanted to protect our interest suggested that there is an open threat to all the teachers so you should call off the meeting because if something happens you will be on target."
The member further added that nothing of this kind has ever happened before in Jamia. "This time, they just want to do away with the association (JTA)."
They add, "The major point that the JTA raised was that the registrar, Dr Nazim Husain Al Jafri, has completed his term and is 62 years old and cannot continue at that position, but the university continued with him. As per the ordinances of JMI and the government rules, he (Dr Nazim) cannot continue. This was the reason they were irritated and took action."
Professor Ahrar Husain, Department Of Teacher Training and Non-formal Education told The Quint that "There are some problems going on between the outgoing JTA and the administration. The association is necessary to meet the demands of the teachers at the university. Whatever happened with the association is not right and this should not have happened."