After a UGC circular that hinted at bringing the University of Delhi under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) gained much criticism, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued a clarification and refuted the speculation.
The clarification came out with a tweet by Mr. R. Subramanyam the Secretary of Higher Education. His tweet said that the idea to ban strikes in the examination services came from some affected students during the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) strike, however, the ministry has decided not to proceed with the suggestion after examining it.
There is no such proposal to bring Delhi University under ESMA. The suggestion to ban strikes in the examination services came from some affected students during the DUTA strike. We have examined it and are not going ahead with the suggestion. Kindly clarify to readers.
— R. Subrahmanyam (@subrahyd) October 20, 2018
MHRD Minister, Mr. Prakash Javadekar, also tweeted that the Ministry does not intend to put any restrictions on universities, however, he didn’t pointedly comment on ESMA.
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) October 20, 2018
The Essential Services Maintenance Act is an act of parliament which has been established to ensure the delivery of certain services such as public transportation, sanitation and health services so that they are not affected during strikes.
The move to include DU under the ambit of ESMA has come as the University witnessed a prolonged evaluation boycott twice in the past two years. In 2016 DUTA had boycotted the evaluation for 55 days in protest against the changed workload condition. This year witnessed another boycott for over 40 days in protest of the recent schemes of government such as autonomy, change in roster policy, etc.
The implementation of the ESMA implies that the teaching, as well as the non-teaching staff and students, will be prohibited from indulging in actions that will disrupt and affect activities in the University. A seven-member group had been formed earlier this month to submit a report within thirty days as MHRD directed for a committee to examine the feasibility of bringing the teaching and evaluation methods of a university under ESMA.
ESMA has received criticism on behalf of many, especially the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Association when their former president, Aditya Narayan Mishra, stated that the MHRD’s new order was an attack on the debate, discussion as well as the spirit of enquiry and scholarship. There has been widespread criticism of ESMA for some of its clauses. According to the Clause (VIII) of ESMA, it states that anybody can be arrested for investigation even without a warrant.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat
With inputs from India Today.