Shut Panjab University today, why wait for three months, HC raps UGC | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Shut Panjab University today, why wait for three months, HC raps UGC

The Punjab and Haryana high court came down heavily on the University Grants Commission for ‘suffocating’ the functioning of the Panjab University by denying the varsity funds.

punjab Updated: Dec 03, 2016 15:21 IST
PU vice-chancellor had red-flagged the issue of financial crunch.
PU vice-chancellor had red-flagged the issue of financial crunch. (HT File Photo)

The Punjab and Haryana high court came down heavily on the University Grants Commission for ‘suffocating’ the functioning of the Panjab University by denying the varsity funds.

“Shut it today, why wait for three months?” asked the high court bench of justices SS Saron and Lisa Gill, as the UGC passed the buck on to the Centre over the issue of a severe financial crisis at the PU.

The bench was hearing a suo motu petition regarding the same, initiated after the vice-chancellor redflagged the issue saying the university was on the verge of ‘closing down’.

Responding to the University Grants Commission (UGC), additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain told the HC that the regulatory body had not communicated with Centre even once seeking enhancement of grants. To this, the bench remarked that when the intentions of not running the university were so clear, they should just close it down.

“You can ask the students to shift to (whichever) university… (Sikkim) Manipal or any other for that matter, when you don’t want to give funds,” the bench told UGC.

Later, the court exempted the personal appearance of chairman or secretary on December 5, the next date of hearing, but ordered the presence of a senior officer for assistance on December 12. Either was asked to remain present because the UGC had failed to intimate the court on the matter of fund release on the previous date of hearing. The application seeking exemption was filed by the UGC.

In response to the petition, the UGC told the court that the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) should provide funds for any additional allocation to PU which had not been done so far.

It also refused to enhance grants to PU and stated that it stood at `176 crore for 2016-17. The UGC affidavit also indicated that the commission increased grants to various universities and colleges by up to 15% except PU “as it is not fully funded by the UGC”.

WHAT THE COURT WAS TOLD
  • UGC affidavit indicates commission increased grants to various universities and colleges by up to 15% except PU “as it is not fully funded by UGC”
  • PU states out of Rs 176 crore, Rs132 crore used for payment of salaries and pension up to November.
  • Rest Rs 44 crore to be released in December to be used for salaries and pension for December and January, leaving coffers empty.
  • PU requests Punjab government to revise current annual allocation of Rs 20 crore to Rs 37 crore and Rs 6 crore to Rs 9 crore for constituent colleges. The deficit has reached Rs 01 crore.
  • Varsity seeks increase in budget allocation to tune of Rs 277 crore. Terms decision by UGC to not increase grants as “discriminatory decision (of UGC) disfavouring PU”.

No money to pay salaries, pension after Jan 2017

Responding to the UGC, the PU stated that out of the current allocation of Rs 176 crore, an amount of Rs 132 crore had been received and a major chunk of this was utilised in the payment of salaries and pension up to November. The rest of the Rs 44 crore to be released in December will be used for salaries and pension for December and January, leaving its coffers empty.

The university has now requested the Punjab government to revise the current annual allocation of Rs 20 crore to Rs 37 crore and Rs 6 crore to Rs 9 crore for constituent colleges in Punjab. The deficit has reached Rs 101 crore.

“Given the average estimate of the monthly expenditure of Rs 41.8 crore, the university will face difficulty in meeting the liability of salaries and pension and other day to day expenditure from January 2017 onwards,” stated the university affidavit, which is yet to be taken on record.

Hence, it sought an increase in the budget allocation to the tune of Rs 277 crore. The university has also termed the decision by the UGC to not increase its grants as a “discriminatory decision (of UGC) disfavouring” PU.