Senate elections: Vice-President’s office asks Panjab University for further course of action
The office of the Vice-President, who is the chancellor of Panjab University, has sought a proposal from the varsity on its further course of action with regards to senate elections.
The proposal was sought in a letter addressed to PU vice-chancellor Raj Kumar on December 31. It came after the higher education department of the Union ministry of education asked the Vice-President’s secretariat to take up the matter with PU on conducting the senate elections or granting extension to the senate and syndicate.
The term of the senate, the apex governing body of PU, ended on October 31 last year. But, the varsity deferred the senate elections twice in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The term of the syndicate, PU’s executive body, also ended in December 31. Its members are elected from among the senators. Hence, the university is now functioning without a governing body.
PU wrote to UGC in November
In November, the varsity had written to the University Grants Commission (UGC), with a copy to the Union ministry of education and secretary to the Vice-President, seeking a plan on the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP-2020).
As no fresh elections to the PU senate have been held so far, the former senators were apprehensive that the governing structure of the university may change due to the NEP-2020, which has recommended that a Board of Governors (BoG) be appointed as the governing body in higher educational institutions.
Vice-President’s office had forwarded PU’s letter to the ministry of education for their advice.
Responding on the matter on December 29, the ministry’s department of higher education stated that PU was an inter-state body corporate under Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, and governed as per provisions of the PU Act, 1947.
UGC has already informed the varsity that it may initiate governance reforms in accordance with provisions of the PU Act. However, these cannot be implemented without the approval of senate.
“In view of the above, the matter may be taken up with PU to decide, in light of ground situation, further course of action for conducting the elections or granting extension to the senate/syndicate,” the ministry’s letter stated.
Series of demands for immediate polls
Ever since the PU senate elections were postponed – first in August and later in October last year – there have been a series of protests on the campus demanding immediate polls.
Besides syndicate members, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal have also written to the Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu asking him to direct the varsity to immediately conduct the senate polls.
PU registrar Vikram Nayyar was not available for comments.