Published: 29th July 2019
Central Civil Services Rules Explained: All you need to know about the conduct guidelines and why the JNU profs hate it
A total of 48 teachers were charged for a protest they had organised last year under Rule 14 of the CCS rulebook
The University Grants Commission (UGC), in a circular released in October 2018, directed central universities to adopt the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1964 for professors of the university. This meant that university teachers won’t be able to express their views freely since the Conduct Rules forbids civil service officers from expressing any view critical of the government or its policies. The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration had already decided to implement the rules then, faced protests and then allegedly backed down.
Following nationwide protests over the attempt to apply the CCS rules on the teaching community, the then HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar, had in October 2018, publicly denied any attempt to stifle freedom of speech and expression in universities. "Soon afterwards the JNU Vice-Chancellor had issued a press release saying that no CCS Rules had been incorporated in the JNU Ordinances. It is surprising therefore that CCS Rules have been invoked in the charge-sheets against the 48 teachers of JNU," said the JNU Students' Union after charge sheets were filed against 48 teachers under the Rule 14 of the CCS on July 25.
What does it mean for the profs?
According to Rule 8 (i) and (ii) and Rule 9 of the CCS, central university professors can’t get involved in any political activity, stage a protest or a strike or even publish without the permission of the administration. The rules will prohibit university teachers from speaking to the media, even anonymously or pseudonymously. They would not be able to criticise the government at all. "These rules have the effect of putting a blanket ban on freedom of speech and expression in the classroom, in research papers and articles, and in public life. In effect, they introduce censorship as a condition of service," said the JNUTA. "Rule 9 deprives teachers of the opportunity and moral obligation to inform and influence public opinion, an essential role of academia, and the chief way in which we can give back to society," they added.
But it does not end here. Rule 5 (1) of the rule book says that no employee can be part of a political party or movement in any way. Rule 6 prohibits an employee from being part of any group that is prejudicial to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, decency or morality. Rule 7 prohibits participation in any demonstration or strike for the same reasons.
Rule 11 prohibits the faculty from sharing unauthorised information with other colleagues and the public except when ordered to do so, or when the information is shared in good faith to discharge duties while Rule 12 prohibits employees from raising funds, ask or accept subscriptions to funds or associate with fundraising in cash or kind for any object whatsoever. "Rule 11 will effectively make all investigative, field-based, archival, scientific research hostage to prior sanction by the university hierarchy and the government. Academics will also be constrained from sharing or otherwise making public information critical to their employment, conditions of service, policy decisions about institutional governance and more," the JNUTA explained in a document that talks about the implications of the imposition of CCS. "This (Rule 12) will constrain teachers from activities that contribute to building the social, cultural and educational infrastructure of their immediate contexts or participate in community efforts for national causes and disaster relief."
Rule 10 states that no employee should be an expert or give public testimony at public tribunals. Rule 10(1) states that ―no employee shall, without the previous sanction of the University, give evidence in connection with any inquiry conducted by any person, committee or authority. Rule 10(2) makes it clear that even if a sanction is obtained, it will be only for evidence or opinion that is not critical of the government.
While these rules make sense when applied to civic servicemen it hardly holds true for professors of universities across the country. "The net result would be a chilling effect on free speech, and will deprive teachers of the means to alert the government and Parliament to violations of policies and laws by university administrations," said the JNU Students' Union.