Maharashtra governor CV Rao on Thursday directed Mumbai University vice chancellor Rajan Welukar to "abstain" from attending duty with immediate effect.
The governor, in his capacity as the chancellor of the 158-year old institution, has ordered pro vice-chancellor Naresh Chandra to take over as officiating vice-chancellor till further orders.
A Raj Bhavan communique said the chancellor took the decision following recent orders passed by the Bombay high court during the course of petitions challenging the essential eligibility qualifications of Welukar.
The high court recently directed a search committee to reconsider the question of eligibility of Welukar for the post of vice chancellor.
An official said that the "abstention" order has been served on Welukar as the matter is still before the court and since there is no provision under the laws to remove a vice chancellor except if they flout certain criteria.
The governor's move has come as a major setback to Welukar barely three months before his five-year tenure was to end in the normal course in May 2015.
The recent high court order gave the governor two weeks to set up this search committee.
Its decision will be placed before the court again next month and in case Welukar is declared "eligible", the situation could change, the official explained.
One of the petitioners challenging Welukar's appointment has claimed that he was not a good academic as he had secured second class in his M.Phil. examinations, his appointment was ad hoc and he did not qualify to be a teacher under the University Act, besides his appointment as teacher was made in September 1985 and not 1983, so he did not posses the minimum teaching experience.
Besides, other issues like having minimum five research publications after PhD in international peer-reviwed journals which should be reference for studies in higher education as one of the criteria for being considered for the post of VC is also a subject matter challenging Welukar's appointment to the post.