The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday removed seven department heads and a coordinator for not complying with the institute’s compulsory attendance system at their respective centres.

The university management issued a circular in December 2017, saying it was planning to make 75% attendance for all courses compulsory and was forming a panel to frame the guidelines. Students and teachers had then called it an “unnecessary and arbitrary” move. The students have since been protesting against the order.

On Tuesday, the university set up an inquiry committee against department heads who had complained to the administration against the attendance rule.

The vice chancellor has removed Dhir Sarangi as the chairperson of the Centre for French and Francophone Studies, and replaced him with Rajiv Saxena. Chairperson of the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance Amit Prakash will be replaced by Professor Amita Singh. Umesh Ashok Kadam will take over as the acting chairperson of the Centre for Historical Studies in place of Sucheta Mahajan.

The vice chancellor also removed the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning’s coordinator Sugato Das Gupta, and appointed the dean of the School of Social Sciences to take charge of the centre’s day-to-day activities. The university removed Pradip Kumar Datta as the chairperson of the Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Thought. Sanjay Kumar Bharadwaj will be the acting chairperson of this centre. Rizwanur Rahman will be the acting chairperson of Centre for Linguistics in place of Pauthang Haokip, and Dhananjay Singh was made the acting chairperson of the Centre for English Studies in place of Udaya Kumar.

The university removed Kavita Singh as the dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics. Mazhar Asif will take charge as the acting dean.

The orders, signed by Section Officer (Academic) AD Bahuguna, said, “The Executive Council in its 272nd meeting held on March 13 confirmed the decision taken in the 271st [emergency] meeting of the EC on resolution number 08 of the 144th (A) meeting of the Academic Council, held on Dec 1, 2017 regarding compulsory attendance in all regular courses, and authorised the Vice-Chancellor to replace the existing Deans of Schools/Chairpersons of Centres who have not complied with, or refused to, implement the attendance system in the university, with the Acting Deans/Chairpersons.”

“They have replaced me with someone who is outside our School, who must be pliant,” Kavita Singh told The Indian Express. “This can only be done when no teacher from the School is available to take that position. This is just part of a long list of things the administration is doing, as people who don’t understand education and educational institutions.”

The daily also quoted a senior university official as saying on Tuesday, “Teachers and students have every right to democratically protest any issue but if chairpersons and deans begin to oppose in writing, it goes against the grain of [the] administration.”