Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao has asked Rajan Welukar, University of Mumbai’s vice-chancellor, to resume his duties.
The orders of the governor — also the chancellor of all state universities — comes after the Supreme Court (SC) on February 27 stayed the orders of the Bombay HC, which had asked a search committee to reconsider Welukar’s eligibility for the post.
“Welukar filed a special leave petition in the SC against the high court orders and got a stay. In view of the SC order, the chancellor has now asked him to resume duties as vicechancellor,” said a statement, issued by the governor’s office.
Welukar said he is thankful to the chancellor and will resume office on Saturday, March 7.
Welukar was told to abstain from attending office on February 19, and the governor had appointed Naresh Chandra as the acting vice-chancellor until further orders. After the SC’s stay, Welukar met the governor on March 3, asking him to reconsider the order.
On the Governor’s February 19 decision, the press statement said: “After having regard to the orders of the HC, the chancellor observed while the question of Welukar’s eligibility is being re-considered, it would not be appropriate for him to continue to exercise powers and discharge duties of the V-C in the interest of the university...”
The petitioners in the case against Welukar were upset with the Governor’s decision and said it seems to have been taken under political pressure.
“This was not expected from the Governor, when the SC has not directed him to do so. It was the Governor’s suo motu decision to ask Welukar to abstain from his duties. There was no need to ask him to resume office, as Naresh Chandra was appointed acting V-C. I am going to ask the governor to take back his decision,” said AD Sawant, former MU pro vice chancellor and one of the petitioners.
University officials, however, welcomed the decision. “This restoration by the Governor is not only beneficial to the vice chancellor and MU, but is also a major relief to all universities. It will protect all vice chancellors and help them retain their integrity, dignity and honour,” said MA Khan, MU registrar.
With the Governor’s orders, the joint meeting of the academic and management council scheduled for March 9 to nominate members for the search committee to investigate Welukar’s qualification will not be conducted, Khan said.
The Governor’s orders have created confusion, said Sudhakar Tamboli, MU senate member, representing Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena. “The Governor’s decision has created confusion among stakeholders of the university about the process to look into Welukar’s [research] papers. Instead of hiding behind court proceedings, Welukar should have resigned. This would have restored the image of this premiere institution.”