THE DIN in the Assembly on Tuesday over the location of the proposed Maharshi Panini Sanskrit University drowned a unique provision – the absolute control by the State Government, rather the chief minister, over the affairs of the university.
A specific clause in the Maharshi Panini Sanskrit University Bill, passed in the Assembly by a voice vote on Tuesday, empowers the Chief Minister to recommend a name to the Chancellor (Governor) for the post of Vice Chancellor.
The CM will exercise this power as the chairman of the university’s general council. An amendment moved by Ramlakhan Sharma, CPI-M, seeking Rewa, instead of Ujjain, as the location of the university led to a division of vote. The amendment was defeated by 58 to eight votes. Congress members, including leader of opposition Jamuna Devi and State party president Subhash Yadav, abstained.
This is for the first time in State a bill vests absolute powers with the Chief Minister to run a university. Although the CM is the chairman of the general body of the Makhanlal Chaturvedi University of Journalism, the power of appointment of a vice-chancellor rests with the general council that nominates a panel for the purpose. In other universities in the State and most universities in the country, a selection committee, appointed by the Chancellor, suggests a panel of names from which he picks the candidate.
Not only the Opposition but also the Governor’s office, to which the draft bill was sent for approval, missed this important provision.
Sources said the Governor did not raise any objection to the draft as the Raj Bhavan was given the impression that any anomaly would be taken care of. Higher education department sources, however, said the draft was presented in totality and no objection was raised by the Governor. However both the Raj Bhavan and the higher education department sources said the provision would affect autonomy of university.
In the light of the recent tug of war between the Raj Bhavan and the State government over university reforms that seek to enhance the powers of vice chancellors, this new provision could raise a storm in academic circles and might even see a delayed reaction from the Raj Bhavan.
Sources said that although the Governor can return the bill by raising objections, such steps are rarely taken. The discussion on the bill remained focused on the demand by several members of the assembly, including some from the ruling party, that the university be set up in Rewa instead of Ujjain. Their contention was that most schools and colleges teaching Sanskrit were situated in Rewa and hence it was the most suitable place. BJP members, including Lavkesh Singh and Rajendra Shukla, pitched for Rewa.