A month after Professor Meera Sood’s enforced retirement by the Principal of Vivekananda College, the High Court (HC) has granted her interim protection of services.

Dr (Professor) Meera Sood, an Assistant Professor of Physical Education at Vivekananda College, received an order by the college Principal stating her retirement age to be 62 years; the stipulated retirement age for professors being 65 years. As reported by DU Beat earlier last month, the order derived its authority from rejecting Sood’s position as a Teaching Assistant Professor, and instead, classifying her as Director of Physical Education.

However, as clarified by Sood herself, a resolution passed in 1991, which determined that physical education teachers should be placed on the faculty roster, allowed redesignation of Directors of Physical Education as Professors.

Sood also mentioned that since the resolution’s implementation, Professors of Directorate Education have retired only after reaching the stipulated age of retirement, i.e., 65.

A Division Bench of the Delhi HC, comprising of Justices Sistani and Jyoti Singh, after a comprehensive hour-long hearing, granted interim protection to Dr Meera Sood. Sood had challenged the alleged illegal and “unreasonable” action of the college Principal.

Sunil Mathews and Sabah Iqbal Siddiqui, Sood’s Legal Counselors argued before the HC that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had stated in Right to Information (RTI) replies and clarifications issued that the retirement age of Associate Professors of Physical education was 65 years, and not 62. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) also released a statement in this regard, “It was also contended on her behalf that the University of Delhi (DU) had in the case of several other colleges, taken the position that the retirement age of such associate professors of Physical Education was 65 years.”

DUTA’s month-long dharna and relay hunger strike on the issue came to fruition in the form of HC’s judgement. The judgement has been hailed by teachers across the varsity and DUTA.

DUTA President, Rajib Ray said, “DUTA condemns the dishonest and negative role played by the counsels for DU and UGC, and demands their removal, as well that of the Officiating Principal of Vivekanand College, Dr Hina Nandrajog.”

Interestingly, the Division Bench also considered the fact that the Governing Body of Vivekananda College had itself taken the position that the retirement age of Dr Sood was 65 years. Despite this, the Principal of the said college issued a letter that Dr Sood’s tenure as a college teacher would come to an end on May 31, 2019; clearly establishing a case of discriminatory authority.

“Her plea was strongly opposed by Legal Counsel appearing for Vivekananda College, as well as the counsels appearing for DU and UGC,” said the DUTA statement. It also added, “Dr Sood had not obtained any interim protection of her service from the learned Single Bench and therefore was constrained to approach the Division Bench. The Division Bench while granting protection of service till the next date also recorded an undertaking that Dr Sood would return salaries paid if she was unsuccessful in her case and the retirement age was to be held at 62.”

Unfortunately, Dr Sood refused to comment on the issue.


Feature Image Credits: The Print


Kartik Chauhan

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Two Physical Education professors of the University have been caught up in a confused state regarding their retirement from their respective colleges.

In an odd display of authority, two professors of University have received letters from their respective principals declaring their retirement age to be 62, instead of the legally stipulated 65. The two professors are from University of Delhi’s Vivekananda College and Shyamlal (Evening) College.

Calling it out as harrassment of the two teachers in the varsity, members of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) held a ‘black flag’ demonstration on Wednesday, 1st May, which marked the University’s 97th foundation day. The abject lack of administrative intervention has proven problematic for the two professors whose jobs are in question.

The two associate professors of the Vivekananda and Shyamlal (E) College have received letters from the principals of these colleges informing them that they would be retiring at the age of 62 instead of 65, DUTA said. The matter has assumed utmost urgency as the professors concerned will attain this in May and July 2019, it said.

As declared by the DUTA to a national daily, failure to intervene in the matter by the administration, the University has failed to protect its own resolutions which determined that physical education teachers should be placed on the faculty roster. It also alleged that the principal of Vivekananda College misrepresented the college governing body’s instruction in the letter, stating that it had directed her to seek “legal opinion”, a claim refuted by members of the body, in a letter to the principal.

At the same time, DUTA has demanded withdrawal of these “illegal letters” and also the stepping down of the officiating principals of the two colleges.

Talking to DU Beat, Abha Dev Habib, a member of DUTA mentioned the historical background of Physical Education in its transition from a sports-related activities to a part of curriculum in the varsity. She says, “Initially, the university appointed Director of Physical Education. But the Executive Council’s resolution during the 1990s allowed them to be appointed as teachers. This is all being analysed restropectively now. The University of Delhi felt it had autonomy (financial and otherwise) to take decisions for the benefit of students. However, this autonomy is being overridden by the government, increasingly.”

She also talled about the retention of talent in the university in general. “The perspective about Physical Education has transformed over time. From being just a sports-related activity encompassing National Cadet Corps, and other related activities, it has now become an imperative part of the curriculum. It is being offered as a Generic Elective subject taught by teachers.” Notably, this transition has not come of its own accord. Various teachers across the varsity have been instrumental in this bringing about this change. Habib further adds, “The Vivekananda professor has been instrumental in establishing the department itself in the college. These teachers have given more or less 25-30 years to adjust the subject to the needs of the university. They have been entrusted with the duties of regular teaching staff and in all manners, they have performed in the capacity of regular teaching staff. You cannot devalue their contribution and ask them to leave abruptly. This argument then becomes about retaining, attracting, and accomodating talented minds in the faculty. Universities redefine. In redefining sports into curriculum, the government has actively introduced various policy changes. And to supplement to the best of everyone’s interest, the government should stand by its decisions.”

Meera Sood, an Associate Professor of Physical Education from Vivekananda College is one of the two professors affected by this unreasonable declaration. She says, “In pursuant of the EC’s resolution 127 dated 10th November 1990, all Directors of Physical Education were redesignated as Professors and given the same responsibilities and duties. The University Letter CB- III/ DPE/91, sent out to colleges on 16/01/1991 declared the same. The nomenclature changed and in that also our responsibilities as reinstated professors.” Madam Sood joined the Department of Physical Education at Vivekananda College in 1994. She mentions, “The principal is being highly unreasonable and discriminating in defining my responsibilities. She is bypassing the rules and regulations set by the university. I have been told that since I was appointed as a Director of Physical Education, I will be retiring at the age of 62. However, the new rules redesignated all Directors as Professors in colleges, which then implies that I shall be retiring at the age of 65.”


Feature Image Credits: DU Beat archives


Kartik Chauhan

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Dr. Pratibha Jolly, the celebrated Principal of Miranda House, Delhi University, retired on 28th February, 2019. Let’s take a look at her contributions to the college in the past 14 years as the Principal.

Dr. Pratibha Jolly has been the Principal of Miranda House since 2005. She is an alumna of the college, having pursued B.Sc. Honours in Physics and M.Sc. from 1970- 1975. After gaining a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Delhi (DU) in 1980, she went on to work in the areas of physics education research and curriculum development at the tertiary level. She was a faculty at Miranda House (1980-1988) before she moved to the Department of Physics and Astrophysics at DU as a UGC Research Scientist (1988-2002). She served as the Principal at Acharya Narendra Dev College (2002-2005) before moving back to Miranda House. Dr. Jolly, in her vibrant tenure, has brought several positive changes to the college.

One of her major contributions is making Miranda a disabled-friendly institution. Through her continuous efforts, Miranda House now has the Amba Dalmia centre within its library for the visually challenged students, and it also has computers that read out the text. There’s also an enabling unit called Lakshita. ‘Digital Vision’ is an app introduced in her tenure, installed in the phones of differently-abled students and is used at the time of admissions.  This app scans QR codes (which can be found outside every room) and gives directions/number of steps to be taken to reach a particular place. There are a number of ramps across the college. Braille books in the library and a Braille notice board are also available. There are scanners, e-book readers, voice recorders, and a Braille embosser that converts printed text to embossed Braille dots for easy reading. All these developments are feathers in Dr. Jolly’s cap for inclusive development of her college. Dr. Pratibha Jolly will surely be missed for all her good work at Miranda House.

Feature Image Credits: Mahamedha Nagar

Sakshi Arora

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(With inputs from DU Beat and Miranda House)