Students should not compromise on studies for politics, says JNU VC

JNU in November released its revised CPO manual under which a fine of up to Rs 20,000 can be imposed for protesting in prohibited areas on campus and Rs 10,000 for raising 'anti-national slogans'

JNU's CPO manual outlining penalties for rule violations has faced criticism, but the VC clarified that fines haven't increased (photo: National Herald archives)
JNU's CPO manual outlining penalties for rule violations has faced criticism, but the VC clarified that fines haven't increased (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor Santishree D. Pandit advised students not to compromise studies for politics amid a row over the varsity imposing a series of stringent measures against staging dharnas (protests) within its campus.

Pandit said disciplinary action can adversely impact students' future prospects for securing jobs. "Nobody's saying don't do protests but at the same time your academics should not be compromised. Many of these students who engage in politics later come to me seeking extensions which will reflect in their profile when they go for a job," she told PTI in an interview.

The vice chancellor cited the open debates and lectures on the Israel-Hamas conflict at JNU, stressing that no agitation has taken place over it, as an example of the culture of critical thinking on campus.

Pandit, who assumed charge as VC of the university in 2022, said she withdrew all proctorial inquiries against students in the 2019 fee hike protest, considering its impact on their careers.

She said students should express their freedom with responsibility. The administration has officially notified the chief proctor office (CPO) manual penalising certain actions on campus such as obstructing officials from performing their duties, drinking alcohol, or speeding on campus to deter them from violating rules, she added.

In November last year, JNU released its revised CPO manual under which a fine of up to Rs 20,000 may be imposed for protesting in prohibited areas on campus and Rs 10,000 for raising "anti-national slogans".

The vice-chancellor said the university administration has not increased the fines but has only officially notified the CPO manual, making it legally sound based on the recommendations of the high court to deter any rule violation on campus.

"We have not increased the slabs for fines in the (revised) CPO manual. Most of the fines mentioned in the manual are for incidents such as obstructing varsity officials from performing their duties or manhandling them or for drinking (alcohol) or for over-speeding on the campus," she said on the criticism against the manual.

She further claimed that "unlawful activities" in her tenure as VC have reduced significantly in the last two years.

Pandit also said many proctorial inquiries cannot be taken back as the matter is sub judice since some students moved court, and FIRs were registered in several other cases for contempt of court.

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