The post of vice-chancellor at the Aligarh Muslim University is up for grabs, setting off a fierce legal battle over who gets to assume charge and pushing the historic institution into the throes of a crisis again.
A section of the university’s staff has frequently been accused of treating the institution as their fiefdom.
Senior deans took turns to be pro-vice-chancellors since PK Abdul Azis retired as the vice-chancellor in January. Matters came to a head when a dean, the next in line, moved the Allahabad High Court against a decision of his predecessor to nominate a retired IAS officer to the post.
The Supreme Court on Friday, hearing the case, barred anybody from the university from assuming charge, handing over the reigns to the executive council. The university currently has no vice-chancellor.
Muslim educator and jurist Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan had founded the Aligarh Muslim University (then Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College) after returning from Oxford in 1875. Modelled on the Oxford University, it was to serve as India’s first centre of western higher education for Muslims.
Muslim leaders have now expressed concern over a “headless varsity”. “The government should have handled the matter more deftly,” said Abdul Khaleque of the LokJan Shakti Party.
Rajya Sabha MP Mohammed Adeeb, a former member of the university’s executive council, called the Supreme Court order “unprecedented”. “It has created more confusion. Let’s see how this proceeds,” he said.
Dean Kazi Afzal Hussain had moved the Allahabad HC, challenging a decision of his predecessor to appoint retired IAS Officer Noor Mohammed as proV-C. According to the Aligarh University Act, only deans could act as interim V-Cs.