The Supreme Court will on Monday take up a petition challenging the appointment of Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah (retired) as the vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.
The court had on September 19 posed some tough questions to the university over its choice of vice chancellor, who is a former soldier and has no teaching experience, mandatory for a central university head.
“The regulations make it compulsory for the VC to possess certain academic qualifications, saying he or she must be a distinguished academician. How can a retired army officer or a police officer be the head of a central university?” a bench of Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and justice AM Khanwilkar had said.
The court was talking about the guidelines laid out by the University Grants Commission, the higher education watchdog, for appointments to central universities like AMU.
“We are not questioning his abilities. We are on the question whether his appointment is as per the UGC regulations,” the court said.
A former student approached the top court after the Allahabad high court turned down his plea to remove Shah, who is the brother of renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah.
The petition, citing UGC norms, says the VC should have worked for at least 10 years as a professor in a university or on an equivalent post in a research or academic institution.
Appearing for AMU, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said the UGC regulations were for teachers. “UGC has the power to regulate the appointment of teachers and not the VC,” he said, adding the university had not adopted the regulations.
But, the bench referred to an earlier verdict that said all central universities would have to follow UGC regulations. “If there are regulations and applicable to a central university then the VC has to be appointed as per the scheme that says he must be an outstanding academician,” the CJI had said.
The UGC, too, backed the petitioner, saying as a central university, AMU was bound by its regulations even if it didn’t approve them. “They have to follow it,” the counsel had said.
The controversy over the VC comes at a time when the Uttar Pradesh-based university, set up as Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875, has waged a legal battle to keep its minority status intact.