Up to Rs 50,000 fine for violence, dharna on campus; students term it ‘draconian’

New JNU rules

Students can face a penalty of up to Rs 20,000 and even cancellation of admission for holding dharnas or a fine of up to Rs 30,000 for resorting to violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, its latest rules stipulate.
As per the new rules, a student may face a fine of Rs 50,000 fine for physical violence, abuse and manhandling towards another student, staff, or faculty members.
Students and teachers of the university have condemned the new rules and termed them “draconian”. Meanwhile, the JNU Students’ Union has called a meeting of all student organisations on Thursday to discuss the new rules.
The 10-page ‘Rules of Discipline and proper conduct of students of JNU’ has laid out punishments for different kinds of acts like protests and forgery, and procedures for proctorial enquiry and recording a statement. The punishment ranges from a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 or rustication and cancellation of admission.
According to the document, the rules came into effect on February 3. It came after the university witnessed a slew of protests over the screening of a BBC documentary.
The rules document states that it has been approved by the Executive Council, the highest decision-making body of the university.
However, Executive Council members told PTI that the issue was brought as an additional agenda item and it was mentioned that this document has been prepared for “court matters”. They added that no proper discussion was taken place over the matter.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s JNU secretary Vikas Patel termed the new rules “authoritarian (‘tughlaqi’)” while asserting that the old code of conduct was sufficiently effective. He demanded a rollback of this “draconian” code of conduct.
JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree D Pandit did not respond to texts and calls from PTI seeking her reaction.
The rules will apply to all students of the university, including part-time students whether admitted before the commencement of these rules or after, the document states.
Punishments have been listed for 17 “crimes”, including blockage, indulging in gambling, unauthorised occupation of hostel rooms, use of abusive and derogatory language and committing forgery. The rules also mention that a copy of the complaints will be sent to the parents.
Cases involving both teachers and students may be referred to the Grievance Redressal Committee of the university, school and centre level. Sexual abuse, eve-teasing, ragging, and arousing communal disharmony cases are of the purview of the chief proctor’s office.
Chief Proctor Rajnish Mishra told PTI, “There were rules mentioned in the statute. However, the new rules have been formulated after a proctorial enquiry.”
He did not reveal when this proctorial enquiry started and when asked whether old rules have been modified, he replied in affirmation.
It has proposed punishments for all acts of violence and coercion such as gheraos, sit-ins or any variation which disrupt normal academic and administrative functioning and/or any act which incites or leads to violence.
The punishments include “cancellation of admission or withdrawal of degree or denial of registration for a specified period, rustication up to four semesters and/or declaring any part or the entire JNU campus out of bounds, expulsion, a fine of up to Rs 30,000 as per the old rules, One/two semesters of eviction from the hostel”.
If the matter is sub-judice, the chief proctor’s office will take action as per the order and direction of the honourable court, the rules state.
For hunger strikes, dharnas, group bargaining and any other form of protest by blocking the entrance or exit of any of the academic and/or administrative complexes or disrupting the movements of any member of the University community, a fine of up to Rs 20,000 will be levied. (PTI)