Even as the Maharashtra governor asked Mumbai University vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar to abstain from attending office on Thursday and handed over charge to pro-vice-chancellor Naresh Chandra, the order has left university stakeholders in a state of confusion. The governor is also the chancellor of all the universities of the state.
While several members of the university senate, principals and other stakeholders welcomed the decision, some are not convinced. Among them are members of the Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) who are planning to write to the governor asking him to sack Welukar.
“Asking him to abstain from his duties even as he continues as the V-C does not make sense. He should have been asked to step down and a new person should have been appointed in his place. Appointing the pro-V-C as the acting V-C is not a solution,” said Madhu Paranjape, secretary, BUCTU.
Some have also questioned the governor’s decision saying a sub-judice matter was “manipulated”. According to section 12, sub section 7(e) of Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, the chancellor, in an emergency, may appoint any suitable person as the V-C for six months. The section states only when the varsity is in an administrative or academic logjam will it be an emergency.
“There was no such logjam for the chancellor to use this section of the act to ask Welukar to abstain from duty. The move seems to be politically motivated,” a member of the senate, on the condition of anonymity, said.
While the Bombay high court, on February 12, directed the chancellor to constitute the committee within two weeks, adding that the committee has to deliberate on Welukar’s appointment as vice-chancellor within four weeks, there is no clarity among the university management council members whether the same search committee will reconsider Welukar’s qualifications or a new committee will be appointed.
Some feel if the search committee comes to a conclusion that the papers submitted by Welukar fulfil essential criteria for the post, he might be asked to resume office and serve till his tenure ends on July 7. Mahadeo Jagtap, member, management council, MU, said, “The governor should have made it clear if the same search committee will probe Welukar’s papers. I hope the confusion is cleared during the joint meeting.”
MA Khan, registrar, MU, said, “The joint meeting of the varsity management and academic councils will be held on February 27.”