HC directs JNU to sanction leave to teacher to pursue fellowship in France

HC directs JNU to sanction leave to teacher to pursue fellowship in France
Press Trust of India | Sep 14, 2020 - 4:01 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to sanction extraordinary leave (EOL) to one of its professors to pursue a nine-month fellowship offered by a French research institute.

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The high court said the varsity’s order rejecting the EOL application was “completely arbitrary” and against the ordinance of the university. Justice Jyoti Singh allowed the petition of professor Udaya Kumar seeking a direction to the varsity to reconsider his application for EOL and grant him the same, with a cost of Rs 20,000 in his favour.

“The petition is allowed. I direct the university to sanction EOL to the petitioner (Kumar) from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 to enable him to join the fellowship,” the judge said.

Kumar, a professor in the Department of English Studies in JNU, has challenged the varsity's executive council's February 18 decision to reject his application dated January 21, 2020 for the EOL without pay for nine months from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

HC order on leave

The court said there is no gainsaying in the fact that Kumar is not going abroad for self-service or self-employment and he is going there for higher studies.

It is a matter of great prestige for JNU that its professor is granted a fellowship in such a prestigious institute, it added. The court said the ground raised by the varsity, that 20 per cent of the strength of teachers in a centre cannot be allowed to be absent, is not made out.

Advocate Abhik Chimni, appearing for Kumar, drew the court’s attention to the minutes of a meeting of the faculty members where Kumar has clearly said that he will continue to teach the course online from abroad.

He submitted that the competent authority, in this case, would be the chairperson for English studies and the dean, who is the head of the School of Language, Literature and Cultural Studies under which the Centre operates and they both have also recommended Kumar’s application for EOL, but the executive council rejected it. So, it cannot be said by the university that the professor cannot be spared for nine months.

Teacher's petition

In his petition Kumar has also sought setting aside of JNU's letters dated March 3, June 12 and July 7 which reject his requests for EOL without pay for nine months, allegedly without giving any reasons.

He had made another request for grant of EOL which JNU has rejected again. He has stated in his plea that he has been offered a Fellowship at the Nantes Institute of Advanced Study, France for a period of nine months from October 2020, which is a Research Institute of Global eminence.

He has contended that in the past four years he has not availed an EOL and in his entire academic career, he has only availed two EOLs. He has also said that the council exercised its discretionary power in a completely arbitrary fashion without any deliberation and application of mind and action of rejecting the plea was malafide.

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