As many as nine aspirants for the vice-chancellor's job at Panjab University appeared before a three-member panel in New Delhi on Thursday.
Of five candidates from PU, the surprise one was RC Sobti, the incumbent vice-chancellor whose second three-year term expires on July 22.
Sobti, in fact, was the first to appear for one-on-one interaction with a three-member panel appointed by vice-president Hamid Ansari, who is chancellor of the university, for selection of new vice-chancellor.
The panel, headed by Justice Leila Seth, has Dr Rama Rao, Indian foreign service official IS Chadha (retd) and a PU senator as other members. Each candidate was closeted with the panel for half-an-hour for presentation and interview.
This is perhaps for the first time in the history of the university that an incumbent V-C has gone through an interview for a third term in the office.
Other PU candidates who appeared before the panel were: Bhupinder Singh Brar, dean, university instructions; RK Kohli, dean, research; Shelly Walia, department of English; and Dinesh Gupta, university business school.
The non-PU candidates were Ved Prakash Das, acting chairman, University Grant Commission; Arun Grover of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Anu of Indraprasth University and Bhupinder Singh Chimni of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Sources said the frontrunners for the top job at the university are RK Kohli and Bhupinder Singh Brar, while, among outsiders, Ved Prakash Das is tipped as a hot contender.
The search panel was formed on February 9, but the selection process was halted on April 11 after doubts were raised on its constitution, which was reportedly not in accordance with the UGC regulations. After getting clarifications from government on June 18, the chancellor's office said the panel has been constituted in accordance with the past practice and the Panjab University Act, 1947.