A search committee constituted to select new vice-chancellor of Panjab University (PU) has come under the cloud due to its composition, as it is allegedly not in accordance with University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations.
The committee does not have a UGC nominee while one of its members, IS Chadha, is a PU senator.
As per regulation 7.3.0 of UGC Act, selection of a V-C is to be done by a search committee. The members of the committee shall be persons of eminence in the sphere of higher education and shall not be connected in any manner with the varsity concerned or its affiliated colleges.
In respect of state and central universities, the committee should have a nominee of the chancellor, who should be chairperson of the committee, a nominee of chairperson and a nominee each from UGC and syndicate/executive council/board of management of varsity concerned.
Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who is the PU chancellor, had formed a search committee headed by justice Leila Seth, and includes Dr Rama Rao and Indian Foreign Service official IS Chadha (retd), also a PU senator.
Stating that the chancellor had nominated him to the senate and as member of the search committee, Chadha said, "In case he had any doubt on my integrity, the chancellor would not have nominated me on the panel."
Asked if he was aware of the UGC norms when he was made member of the search committee, Chadha said whether he was aware of the guidelines or not doesn't matter, as it was the chancellor who had inducted him into the committee.
In a similar case reported by a section of media, the UGC recently had submitted an affidavit in the Bombay high court, declaring the three-member selection committee constituted for the selection of vice-chancellor of University of Pune as invalid.
In the affidavit, the UGC stated that it is binding for every university to follow the former's instructions regarding appointment of V-C. The three-member committee does not have a nominee of the UGC and a member of the selection has been involved with UoP.
Tarlok Bhandu, a member of PU senate, said when the university has accepted the UGC regulations in toto, the formation of the search committee should have been as per the laid guidelines.
When contacted, UGC joint secretary AK Dogra said it is mandatory for universities across the country to follow the UGC guidelines laid for the appointment of V-C.
Raising objection to the inclusion of IS Chadha in the search committee, Rabinder Nath Sharma, a senior senate member, claimed that the former has been actively involved in the senate politics and also participated in the election process of various statutory bodies.
"It's not possible for such person to take decision based on merit. He will have some biases, which will not help in fair selection," said Sharma.
Two senators are in the fray for the V-C's post.
Parvathaneni Harish, joint secretary and officer on special duty to the vice-president, told HT that the chancellor has nominated all members and everything has been done as per norms. "The members of the committee are doing their job in a most efficient manner," said Harish.