PU spent Rs 60 lakh on litigation in last 6 yrs
Panjab University has had to spend around Rs 60 lakh to defend itself in the 1,316 litigations in the past six years. According to figures provided by the university, in 2007, PU faced 176 legal cases, which cost the varsity Rs 9.6 lakh, 206 cases in 2006 for which it spent Rs 6.5 lakh.
In 2008, it cost PU Rs 8.9 lakh for handling 165 cases, while in 2009 the authorities shelled out Rs 8.33 lakh for 176 court cases.
The years 2010 and 2011 saw a significant jump in the expenditure incurred on contesting litigations. For 175 cases in 2010, Rs 10.7 lakh was spent, while Rs 14.9 lakh was spent on 209 cases in 2011. This year, so far 15 cases have been filed against the university.
A majority of cases pertain to matters related to admissions, examinations, affiliations and service issues filed by students, employees and aspirants, who have applied for various posts in the university.
Besides leading to a huge financial loss, the court cases dented the image of the university, said senior senate member and dean, faculty of languages, Virander Kumar Tewari.
He said such situations arose due to incompetence of the authorities in maintaining dialogue and interacting with the aggrieved litigants.
"In the last few years, the university has lacked legal competence and transparency and their approach wasn't objective," alleged Tewari.
PU fellow Tarlok Bandhu said the authorities should act cautiously to avoid litigation. He said the authorities should try to resolve issues at their end instead of allowing the disgruntled to move court.
The university has three legal retainers - advocates Anupam Gupta, Deepak Sibal and Anmol Rattan Sidhu. They also have 17 high court lawyers and 10 district court lawyers on its panel.
Talking about the large number of people moving court, Gupta, who is on the panel of the university since 1991, said, "The university and the high court are based in Chandigarh and are accessible to people. Had the two been located at different places, the number of cases would have been lesser."
He however looked at the bright side and said that it showed how aware people were of their rights and this would eventually enhance the accountability of the university."
Bhupinder Singh Brar, dean, university instructions, said they tried their best to resolve the issue at their end by consulting the university's legal team.
In order to tackle the rising litigation cost, Brar said there was a need to strengthen their legal cell. Despite repeated attempts, registrar AK Bhandari was not available for comment.
In 2011, five staff members of the computer centre on the PU campus were to be promoted, but for some reason only one was promoted. The matter was taken up in the senate and no resolution came through. The four staff members also gave a representation, but in vain.
Vinod Kumar, one of the aggrieved candidates, moved court. In the first hearing only, the university gave an undertaking in the court that they would meet their demand.
Kumar was promoted as system administrator in January. "I was forced to knock the doors of the court as I was deprived of my rights. The university could have avoided the situation," said Kumar.