MU V-C goes on indefinite leave even as papers still unchecked
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who also serves as the chancellor of all public universities in the state, on Wednesday appointed the V-C of Shivaji University, Kolhapur, in Sanjay Deshmukh’s place until he returnsmumbai Updated: Aug 10, 2017 00:38 IST
Amid the chaos surrounding online assessment of answer papers at the University of Mumbai (MU), the vice-chancellor (V-C) Sanjay Deshmukh has been “forced” to go on an indefinite leave. The varsity has missed several deadlines and has still not completed the assessment process.
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who also serves as the chancellor of all public universities in the state, on Wednesday appointed the V-C of Shivaji University, Kolhapur, Devanand Shinde, in Deshmukh’s place until he returns. With the registrar MA Khan also set to leave the varsity, the governor appointed Dhiren Patel, director of VJTI, Matunga, as an acting pro V-C until all results of the examination held in the first half of the year are declared.
While Raj Bhavan maintained Deshmukh had applied for leave on his own accord, a senior official from the state's department of higher and technical education said the governor asked the V-C to do so. "Deshmukh wasn't willing to leave office, but the governor made him do so," said the official.
Deshmukh has been under fire for his decision to overhaul the assessment process by adopting an on-screen marking (OSM) system. The decision caused a huge delay in the results because MU couldn't appoint an agency for a long time and technical glitches continue to plague the system. The governor had set July 31 as the deadline to declare all the results. But the varsity failed to do so. Several student organisations had demanded Deshmukh be sacked.
In a bid to speed up assessment, the governor has also filled the position of pro-VC on a temporary basis. For the past two years, MU has been working without a pro V-C and a full-time controller of examination. With the university registrar MA Khan's deputation as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Hajj Committee of India, another top post is likely to fall vacant soon.
The governor's action is being interpreted in different ways. "It's a political gimmick by the government, as the state legislature is in session. If technically Deshmukh has taken the leave voluntarily, there's a chance that he will be brought back. It's not easy to remove the V-C of a university. Deshmukh's predecessor Rajan Welukar served his entire tenure despite questions over his qualification," said a senior professor from the university. However, a senior varsity official suggested the leave could be the first step in replacing Deshmukh. "Removing a V-C is a complex and long-drawn process. There's a chance that the temporary leave could be transformed into a permanent one," he said. Deshmukh was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.
The professor also suggested the appointment of Shinde as acting V-C is a mistake.
"The governor should have appointed someone who has experience working with MU. The new V-C may need some time to get accustomed to the university's system." The university official, on the other hand, expressed confidence in Shinde’s abilities.