LAST MONTH, Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath was conferred the D Litt degree (honoris causa) by Dr S.M. Paul Khurana, Vice-Chancellor of Rani Durgawati Vishwavidyalaya (RDVV), Jabalpur.
No problems with that, but the venue of the function was Nath's house in New Delhi — not the university campus. The day: November 18, which happened to be the minister's birthday.
The ceremony kicked up a row with former rector of RDVV, Prof H.P. Verma demanding Dr Khurana's sack. In his complaint to university Chancellor and Governor Balram Jakhar, Verma claimed that conferring the degree at Nath's house violated the provisions of MP Vishwavidyalaya Adhiniyam (University Act) 1973.
Verma also claimed that both the V-C and Nath wore convocation robes at the function. Khurana, however, argued that he had sought the consent of Jakhar before conferring the degree on Nath in New Delhi. "Neither I have done anything wrong, nor violated the University Act", he told the Hindustan Times.
Verma pointed out that while the Act provides for a honorary degree in absentia, it does not permit holding a mini-convocation ceremony privately. The university should have sent a messenger to Nath instead, he said. On October 12, the university had awarded the D. Litt to Kamal Nath at a ceremony in absentia, since he was abroad at that time.