JNU Implements Controversial Code of Conduct Sparking Student Outcry

JNU Implements Controversial Code of Conduct Sparking Student Outcry

According to the mandate, students could face fines of up to Rs. 20,000 and expulsion from the university for actions such as disrupting property, inciting violence, and participating in protests.

Lavanya AhireUpdated: Monday, December 18, 2023, 02:36 PM IST
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Aishe Ghosh (left), Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit (right) |

On November 24th, the proctor's office at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) introduced a newly drafted code of conduct for students, sparking controversy and accusations of stifling dissent. According to the mandate, students could face fines of up to Rs. 20,000 and expulsion from the university for actions such as disrupting property, inciting violence, and participating in protests.

Aishe Ghosh, a student union leader, was fined Rs. 10,000 for forcibly entering the Teflas Union Office. Ghosh expressed concern, stating, "The government has been hunting down dissent. This manual is about setting narratives."

"Fines are aligned with the money slabs"

In defense of the code of conduct, JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit explained that the fines are aligned with the money slabs of fellowships provided by the university. She clarified that the increased fines, ranging from 10,000 to 20,000, were approved by the High Court and emphasized the need for a legally sound document vetted by lawyers.

Critics, including various students and student leaders, have raised objections to the manual's language, deeming terms like 'anti-national' and 'moral turpitude' arbitrary. One student questioned, "What does anti-national mean? Does questioning the National Education Policy or protesting against fee hikes constitute anti-national behavior?"

The timing of the draft has also come under scrutiny, with students and unions speculating whether it is a strategic move to pave the way for future fee hikes. Expressing concerns, a student remarked, "The administration has attempted fee hikes before but faced collective student opposition. Does the drafting of this manual signal their intent to try again?"

No elections since 2019

Swati Singh, a final-year PhD student was fined Rs. 50,000 and expelled for two semesters, lamented the decline of JNU as a democratic space without a student body to represent their interests. JNU has not conducted elections for the JNUSU since 2019, leaving the office vacant.

Vice-Chancellor Ms. Pandit assured that elections would be held soon after the admission results are announced, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), with results expected in four to eight weeks. The absence of student representation has fueled concerns about the erosion of democratic processes within the university.

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