The human resource development (HRD) ministry is set to formally claim before the Punjab high court that the Chandigarh-based Panjab University is a central varsity, four years after it filed an affidavit suggesting just the opposite.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati has advised the HRD ministry to file a review petition before the HC if it wants to implement key norms valid for central higher educational institutions on Panjab University (PU), top government sources said.
The advice follows mounting pressure on the HRD ministry to raise the retirement age at PU from 62 at present to 65, and to implement OBC quotas at the university. These demands sprouted after the HRD ministry provided a massive one time bailout package of over R100 crore to PU, which was struggling for funds and had turned to self-financing courses which the Centre felt were hurting students interest.
The HRD ministry also set up a panel to propose reworking the sharing of financial responsibilities between the state government of Punjab and the Centre for running PU.
The panel recommended replacing the fund sharing arrangement from 60:40 between the Centre and the state, to a ratio under which the Centre would provide 80% of the funds. The recommendations were accepted, and the AG, the government’s top law officer, had at the time argued that PU could be considered a central university for the purpose of the additional grants and increased funding responsibility of the Centre.
The Centre’s decision to financially support PU was also strongly supported by the office of the Prime Minister, an alumnus of the university.
But the decision to centrally support PU triggered calls for extending central rules and regulations on PU too. Teachers have demanded a hike in retirement age, while OBC quotas have also been sought.