The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, former vice-chancellor of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University (SGGSWU), Fatehgarh Sahib, challenging his suspension in July last year.
Ahluwalia, who had taken over as vice-chancellor on June 6, 2008, was placed under suspension on July 31, 2012, by the university "in view of contemplation of an inquiry into series of charges of misconduct" against him.
Pronouncing the judgment, the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, however, said since Ahluwalia was himself ready to step down from the post and willing to resign, "the board of trustees may, therefore, still consider this option" in the larger public interest.
The bench added, "It would still be a better course of action to give quietus to the entire controversy which may also allow the prestige of such an institution to remain intact." But the court clarified that it had left the matter to the "entire discretion of the trustees after weighing the pros and cons of the issues involved."
The petitioner had approached the court with the contentions that the suspension order was motivated and actuated with mala fides (bad faith) and the chancellor (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar) had no power to suspend him as the appointing authority was the board of trustees, not the chancellor.
Addressing Ahluwalia's contentions, the bench said, "The petitioner has not been able to make out a case of mala fides." The court said since Ahluwalia was holding the post of vice-chancellor and "in that capacity, had control over the affairs of the university as well as records, it could not have been possible to conduct the inquiry without placing the petitioner under suspension."
The court stated that before placing the petitioner under suspension, a fact-finding inquiry was conducted, wherein the purported material against the petitioner about various financial irregularities had surfaced.
Answering the second objection raised by the petitioner about the chancellor's authority of suspending him, the court said it did not find the chancellor's power of suspension without jurisdiction.
The court added that though as per the SGGSWU Act, 2008, the power to appoint the vice-chancellor was with the board of trustees, but "the board of trustees has duly delegated this power to the chancellor."