Published: 17th November 2023
Her side of the story: Rusticated JNU student leader Swati Singh on show-cause notices, fines she faces
The union has called all organisations, student communities, and concerned individuals to unite against this assault on democratic rights in JNU
A former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) Councillor Swati Singh has been rusticated and declared out of bounds from the university by the administration for allegedly manhandling and misbehaving with security guards at the gate of the Convention Centre during the admissions process. Condemning this alleged attack by the administration on the activist, the JNUSU had organised a press conference at 2 pm at the SL-SIS lawn today, November 17.
As per the rustication order dated November 8, "In the Proctorial Enquiry, Ms. Swati Singh. (Registration Number: 200810054460, Enrolment Number: 20/55/MR/005 and Year of Admission: 2020, an M.Phil/Ph.D student, Centre of Russian Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies and a r/o 227, Godavari Hostel) has been found guilty of manhandling a lady security guard and misbehaving with the other security guards posted at the gate of Convention Centre, JNU on 29 August 2023."
"This is not the first time I am being served a notice. From 2017-18, I have received 15 show-cause notices and four punishments because I was a part of protest movements against fee hikes, mandatory attendance and the like."
Reacting to the rustication order, Swati claims, "It is vindictive as I am facing the consequences for no fault of mine. It took me two court orders and two hefty fines of Rs 10,000 to register for my seventh semester. The actual registration fee for the same is Rs 150."
"With regard to my registration issue, I approached the court. And on September 22, the Delhi High Court directed the university to allow me to register for my semester," she said. The court order, which EdexLive has access to, said, "The impugned action would indicate that there is an imposition of a fine of Rs.10,000/-.- Without prejudice, the petitioner is directed to deposit a sum of Rs.10,000 subject to the outcome of the instant writ petition. - On the deposition of the fine amount, the respondent-University is directed to allow the petitioner to register for completion of her further course."
As per the rustication orders, the scholar "did not turn up for hearing after sending three call letters". Here are the details of the notices:
- On September 25, the first call letter was given to Swati to appear before the Proctorial Committee for her deposition on October 3. On October 3, 2023, through email, she expressed her inability to attend the hearing citing medical reasons. However, the medical card produced by JNU Health Centre nowhere mentions bed rest or isolation.
- On October 6, 2023, a second call letter was issued for deposition on October 13. In an email reply on October 13, she again expressed her inability to attend the hearing at the Chief Proctor's Office citing she was out of the station. However, the train ticket produced turned out to be of October 4 which was booked on August 25.
- The third call was sent via an email on October 16, 2023, asking her to send her deposition through email by October 17, 2023 by 5.00 pm. Although she replied on the same day, she was out of station, as per the CSO (Chief Security Officer) report dated October 12, 2023, Swati was present on campus for a protest on October 11.
As she did not turn up for any hearing after sending three call letters, the administration stated, "This clearly shows her non-seriousness to appear for the Proctorial enquiry and misleading the enquiry."
Further, another show-cause notice was issued to Swati Singh on October 30, 2023, to explain her position by November 3, 2023, by 11.00 am. "She replied through e-mail on 2 November 2023, however, it was not found satisfactory," the order added.
It said "This kind of activity falls under Item 3, Category II (xxxiv) and (xxv) of the Statute 32(5) of the Statute of the University which states that:
(iv) "Any intimidation or insulting behaviour towards a student, staff, or faculty or any other person" and
(xx) "Any other act which may be considered by the VC or any other competent authority to be an act of violation of discipline and conduct"
Therefore, considering Swati's career, JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Pandit has taken a somewhat lenient view on the matter, the rustication order read.
A hasty decision?
Speaking to EdexLive, Swati opined that the administration has wrapped up the process in her case in a very hasty way. "Somehow, when the court order allowed me to register for my semester, the administration has rusticated me," she said.
She said she hails from a family which is not well-off. She said the fines on her seem to burden her as she claims that she has not been receiving her Non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship for the past 10 months.
Additionally, as her registration was delayed, she couldn't avail the opportunity to register for Self-Fellowship. Dejected with how the administration is allegedly attacking her, she said, "Once they declare me guilty, all my work gets obstructed until a court order comes."
Further, Swati claims that she has received only two call letters and now she urges the administration to grant her a meeting. "If cross-questioning, audio, and video visuals are provided in the inquiry, I am sure, I will be proven innocent," she said claiming that she did not attack any guards, however, she was attacked by the guards and an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist during the admissions assistance event.
As per the statement issued by the union today, "The JNU Administration has been since the past few months continuously targeting student activists and representatives for raising pertinent issues of the student community. Scores of activists and representatives belonging to different organizations have been receiving notice after notice from Proctor’s Office and are being punished without following any due enquiry procedure."
Expressing its support to Swati and other students like Nazar, Farooque Alam, Tajjamul Hussain and others who are being subjected to harassment at the hands of the JNU administration, the union has called all organisations, student communities, and concerned individuals to unite against this assault on democratic rights in JNU.