In an unusual move, the Punjab and Haryana high court has impleaded Kaptan Singh Solanki, chancellor of Kurukshetra University (KU), as a party in a writ petition filed by KU vice-chancellor Lt Gen DDS Sandhu (retd).
Solanki is also the Haryana governor besides holding the additional charge of Punjab governor and the UT administrator.
The case pertains to the alleged illegal appointments done at the KU during the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in which Solanki had ordered an inquiry against the V-C.
Solanki was impleaded as a party by the single-judge bench of Justice Ajay Tewari, as on May 11, the government had told the high court that the order of inquiry had been passed by him and the petition should be dismissed as Solanki had not been made a "necessary party" in the case.
"This is an application for impleading the chancellor of Kurukshetra University as respondent No. 6. Learned advocate general states that he has no objection if the chancellor is impleaded as a party. For the reasons recorded, the application (impleading Solanki as party) is allowed," the high court said in its order on May 29, following the application of Sandhu impleading the chancellor as party was filed in response to the May 11 submissions of the government.
Haryana advocate general BR Mahajan, who was present in the court during the hearing, told the bench that he would appear on behalf of the chancellor as well. The hearing now in the case has been adjourned for June 29 when the high court resumes work after the summer vacation.
The President and governors enjoy immunity from a suit as long as they are in office. If the governor is chancellor of a university, he can be impleaded as a party. They enjoy immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution but their actions can always be challenged. "Technically, there is nothing wrong. But only one thing is surprising here. Not only governors' impleadment as party in some other capacity, but Vidhan Sabha speakers', chief ministers' and ministers' impleadment is opposed by governments tooth and nail," a senior advocate of the high court told Hindustan Times.
Acting on a letter from chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar's office, on March 2 Solanki had asked IAS officer TC Gupta to hold an inquiry against Sandhu. Sandhu approached the high court against the order. On April 6, the high court restricted the government from passing the final order in the case. In the inquiry report submitted by Gupta, an order was passed indicting Sandhu on various grounds.
Now, the government move has given credence to allegations by Sandhu that he was being victimised as a result of "political vendetta" because he was appointed during the Congress regime and the exercise carried out was to remove him from the post.
Sandhu filed another petition on May 18 against Gupta before another bench, saying that despite the high court directions that the final order not be passed pending the writ petition, he had been indicted without giving an opportunity of hearing. Now, the high court has also issued notice to Gupta and the government as well on the petition in which the next hearing will take place on July 7.
Another inquiry order stayed
The high court has also stayed final order on an inquiry against Indira Gandhi University, Rewari, vice-chancellor, Mohinder Kumar (a retired IAS officer), ordered by the government in April this year. The high court order came on May 28 on the petition of Kumar. Kumar has also alleged that the inquiry was political victimisation to remove him as he was appointed during the Congress regime.