Published: 14th May 2021
Delhi HC asks JNU students, teachers and administration to stop fighting, work together to set up COVID care centre
The HC was hearing a writ petition filed by the JNU Teachers' Association asking for more COVID testing, care and isolation centres on campus
The Delhi High Court, possibly tired of playing referee between the JNU administration, the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) and the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU), while acting on a writ petition filed by the JNUTA, and suggested that they work together and not get 'adversarial' with each other.
Passing her judgment, Justice Prathiba M Singh said, "It is expected that the students and the faculty association, as also the administration of JNU, would work together for the betterment of the residents and students of the JNU campus and shall not take any adversarial measures against each other."
The constant tussle between the men and women who administer India's most influential varsity, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the student and teacher associations had come to a boil as Delhi reels under the second wave of COVID and is locked down intensely.
Justice Singh also gave students and teachers plenty to cheer about as she ordered the setting up of a COVID care centre on campus immediately. "The location of the centre will be determined immediately by the COVID Task Force in consultation with the SDM," she said before adding that this would only be for students and staff who tested positive to isolate and have their basic parameters monitored.
The judge also asked the task force to take suggestions and assistance from the JNUTA or any faculty on campus, should their help be required in setting this centre up. To help with the basic monitoring of parameters, Justice Singh also said that the task force could empanel medical staff, both on campus and off, in consultation with the SDM.
Should there be any emergency where someone on campus needs immediate higher medical assistance, they will have to be shifted to a suitable hospital in the vicinity, for which a consultation is to be held with the Delhi Government and other stakeholders. The writ petition was filed earlier this month asking for setting up a facility with oxygen support and an isolation centre for COVID care, as there are between 12,000 and 15,000 individuals on campus
The campus saw some high level drama on May 12 as well, a day after the first court hearing. The court had mandated two meeting — one between the top administration and the SDM or ADM and another that would also include the JNUSU and JNUTA among other parties. But the second meeting started without the SDM. After reports by Edexlive on this violation, a second meeting was also convened on the same day at 3.30pm with the SDM. Even then JNUTA Secretary Dr Moushumi Basu alleged that the VC muted her to cut the meeting short.
The JNUTA and JNUSU have been asking the administration for a COVID Care Centres and isolation in the old guest houses for the past month. Even though teachers said that the new Registrar was not averse to the idea, the has been no steps taken towards this. Sources privy to the situation and part of various high level meetings confirmed that the concerned ministries and departments were being updated on the conditions and the issues but the imp lamentation took time because "everything is delayed due to the pandemic and the lockdown".
Not just the SDM and the ADM but MLA Naresh Yadav of the AAP had also agreed to help. But the JNU administration had tired down such proposals made by the SDM, said officials who spoke to him on April 23. JNUTA Secretary Moushumi Basu had told EdexLive that the district administration said that the guidelines for setting up COVID Care Centres inside gated communities can be followed for the JNU Campus as well. "The Guidelines issued by the Delhi Government provide a comprehensive instruction manual for setting up of such facilities by Resident Welfare Associations (RWA). Unlike RWAs who are starting from scratch from procuring beds and other facilities, in JNU, we have fully furnished rooms with attached bathrooms that may be used for this purpose. If RWAs across the city can take up the challenge, why not JNU? Other institutions like IIT Delhi have created such facilities that are up and running, which have helped ease the burden on campus residents," she added. The teachers have also requested the administration to include experienced faculty from the field of Social Medicine in the COVID response teams.