The recent appointments of vice-chancellors (VC) of universities in Maharashtra have come under the scanner of the Bombay high court.
A petition has been filed alleging that the new appointments are not in consonance with the Regulations laid down by the University Grant Commission (UGC), which is the apex body of universities in the country.
The UGC has been vested with the power of coordination and maintenance of standards of higher education in the Universities of India.
A public interest litigation has been filed in the Nagpur bench of the high court by Sunil Mishra, a faculty of the Central India Institute of Mass Communication, Nagpur, seeking that the recent appointments of VCs be quashed and set aside.
His petition claims that the search committee appointed for empanelment of candidates for appointment of VC has not been constituted as per UGC regulations.
As per the UGC Regulations, members of the search committee should consist of persons not connected with a particular university or the colleges affiliated thereto.
Also, the chairman of UGC or his nominee has to be a member of the search committee.
The state government, in 2009, amended the provision in the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, thereby altering the VC selection criteria.
The amendment is in contradiction to the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 and keeps the central body out of the selection panel, alleges the PIL.
As per the amendment in the Maharashtra University Act, Principal Secretary, Higher Education or any other person of the status of the principal secretary is appointed as a member of the search committee.
“If the search committee is constituted with such a person therein, it will stand vitiated in the eye of law,” states the PIL.
“Any panel submitted by it for appointment of vice-chancellor is similarly vitiated and cannot be acted upon,’ it adds further.
Panels have been submitted in some of the universities and in some appointments of VCs have been made from among those mentioned in the panel submitted by the search committees.
However, for SNDT University, Mumbai, and Sant Gadge Maharaj University, Amravati, the search committees have not taken decisions so far.
Hence, as an interim relief the petition seeks that search committees appointed in respect of SNDT University, Mumbai, and Sant Gadge Maharaj University, Amravati, be stayed.
The PIL seeks that the Chancellors of Universities be directed not to appoint any other search committee as prescribed in the amended Maharashtra Universities Act.