The University Grants Commission (UGC) has come out in support of an Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) alumnus who challenged the appointment of Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah as the vice-chancellor of the varsity in the Supreme Court.
UGC - an autonomous body tasked with maintaining and improving standards of higher education in India - said a VC cannot be appointed if he or she has not worked for at least 10 years, the same ground on which Syed Abrar Ahmed has sought Shah’s dismissal.
In its affidavit filed before the top court, the commission said AMU adopted its 2010 guidelines on the appointment of teachers to universities and colleges and as a central university AMU it bound by its regulations, even if it did not approve them.
“UGC regulations have the force of law and are not dependent upon any adoption or no adoption by any state government and are to be followed by all the universities mandatorily,” it stated.
The UGC’s submission before the top court comes in the backdrop of the Centre taking a controversial stand on AMU’s status as a minority institution. In another on-going case before the top court, the NDA government has said the central university cannot be accorded a minority status.
The Centre wants to withdraw an appeal filed by its predecessor UPA government against an Allahabad high court verdict declaring AMU as non-minority varsity.
On October 16 last year, the HC junked Ahmed’s petition challenging Shah’s appointment, noting there was “nothing wrong with the procedure (adopted)”. He contended Shah, who took over on May 11, 2012, was not qualified because did not meet the minimum requirement prescribed by the UGC.
Ahmed’s counsel Prashant Bhushan said the HC had “erroneously refused to quash the appointment of the VC, in contradiction of the mandatory provisions of the UGC Regulation, 2010”.
“The UGC Regulations, 2010 was accepted and adopted by the AMU and the same was put in abeyance by the university, deliberately by an administrative order,” he argued.