The Bombay high court, on Friday, dismissed a petition challenging the state's selection process for vice chancellors (VC), paving the way for the appointment of a new VC for the University of Pune.
Thane-based social activist, Suresh Patilkhede, had approached the HC challenging the validity of the Maharashtra Universities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2009.
The Ordinance, which amended certain provisions of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, provides for nomination of a search committee to shortlist candidates for the VC's post. The Governor then selects one of the short-listed candidates.
Patilkhede contended that the process went against the regulations of the Universities Grant Commission (UGC). He further contended the selection mechanism was illegal and lacked basic sanctity of law.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Niteen Jamdar, however, did not find anything wrong with the process. "The respondents have acted in consonance with the provisions of the Maharashtra Universities Act," the judges observed. The HC also turned down a request by the petitioner to stay the selection process till they moved Supreme Court.
The state authorities, on January 6, had said that they would not continue with the selection process till the petition was pending.
On Friday, after the judgement was pronounced, advocate VB Tiwari, who represented the petitioner, sought a stay based on that statement.
Girish Kulkarni, representing University of Pune, opposed the request, stating that the VC’s post has been vacant for eight months now, and the university was in urgent need of a VC. The university’s VC, RK Shevgaonkar, left to join the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi as director. The judges accepted this and said that the appointment could not be delayed further..
The petitioner's counsel, Anil Anturkar, had argued that UGC regulations would prevail over the Maharashtra Universities Act. The HC, however, held that UGC guidelines, at the most, could be termed as subordinate legislations and could not override the provisions of a legislation enacted by the State Legislature.