UT advises Panjab University to postpone polls, senators miffed
Says risk of infection spread will be high as faculty members arrive from various states for the senate polls.Updated: Oct 17, 2020, 01:24 IST
Responding to its communication, the UT administration has advised Panjab University to continue with its previous decision to postpone the senate elections to avoid the risk of Covid-19 spread.
Almost two months after the varsity had postponed the senate polls for the first time in August, it had decided to defer these further on Thursday.
In an official communique issued by the University on Thursday, it was announced that after taking cognisance of the Unlock-5 guidelines, vice-chancellor (V-C) Raj Kumar had decided to seek advice from the UT administration regarding the conduct of the senate elections.
On Friday, in a letter to the officiating registrar-cum-returning officer of PU, the UT administration, cited a response from the senior superintendent of police: “As the Covid-19 situation in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra is at its peak and the faculty members, who belong to these states, will arrive in Chandigarh to cast their votes at PU, the possibility of spreading Covid-19 in Chandigarh cannot be ruled out. Thus, it is recommended that permission may not be granted to PU authority to conduct the senate elections 2020.”
“The director of health services has also reported that although the infection rate of Covid-19 has decreased, the surge of infection cannot be ruled out at this stage since the virus is highly contagious and the risk of infection is still very high in the present scenario. It is recommended that such gathering should be avoided in the public interest,” the letter read.
In light of these reports, the matter was put up before the adviser to the administrator, Manoj Parida, who informed the varsity through the letter to continue with its previous decision to postpone the senate elections.
The senate is a 91-member apex governing body of the Panjab University. Out of the total members, 36 are nominated by the Vice-President of India, who is also the chancellor of the university. The four-year term of the present senate will end on October 31.
SENATORS WRITE TO BADNORE
Meanwhile, a few senators have written to UT administrator VP Singh Badnore, stating that the V-C was trying to scuttle the democratic system of governance in the university. “There is no reason that the V-C should involve your office in the matter. In the University Calendar, there is no provision that mandates your office to have any role in the decision of holding senate elections. By bringing in UT administration into the matter, the V-C is abdicating his own responsibility so that in case of any backlash – legal or popular, he may hold the UT administration responsible for the postponement,” a group of senators wrote in the letter.
Senator Ashok Goyal said, “The varsity sought advice from the administration only with the intention of getting a negative reply to avoid the senate polls. The administration has also cited completely unfounded and factually incorrect grounds to defer the polls. If the elections of Bihar assembly can be held where crores of people have to vote, then why not those of Panjab University? I hope the administration will review its decision after being unnecessarily involved in the matter by the V-C.”
There had been friction between the Goyal group, which has a majority in the PU syndicate, and the V-C ever since the elections were postponed on August 15. After that, no syndicate meeting has been held so far. Though the V-C had convened an emergent online syndicate meeting twice in September, the members had refused to attend these.