After the Supreme Court’s notice to the governor of Maharashtra, the Bombay high court issued him a notice seeking a reply on a public interest litigation challenging recent appointments of vice-chancellors (VC) in the state.
The governor is the chancellor for all universities in the state.
On March 18, the Supreme Court issued notice to the governor on a special leave petition filed by Sunil Mishra, 39, alleging irregularities in 85 colleges under Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University at Nagpur.
A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice AP Bhangale, of the Nagpur bench of the high court, issued notices on Tuesday to 14 respondents, including the chancellor and the University Grant Commission (UGC), asking them to file their reply in four weeks. The court also issued notices to 11 universities in the state, including Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad.
Despite the court’s direction on February 28, the government and the UGC failed to file a reply by April 4. So, the high court issued notices to all the respondents, including the governor.
Mishra, a faculty of the Central India Institute of Mass Communication, Nagpur, filed a PIL seeking that the appointments of VCs be quashed as they are not in consonance with the regulations laid down by the UGC, the apex body of universities in the country.
Mishra’s counsels — former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, Rajendra Tiwari, and advocate Shrikant Khandalkar — argued that while amending the Maharashtra University Act, the government ignored the UGC Act and its regulation for shortlisting and empanelling candidates for the post of VC.
The candidates have been arbitrarily shortlisted and empanelled for final selection of VC, argued Tiwari. A search committee is appointed which suggests a panel of candidates from where the VC is appointed by the Chancellor of the University.
Government pleader Nitin Sambare said the issue raised was related to service matter (appointment of VCs) and hence it cannot be a PIL.