Centre steps in to end bitter spat over DU registrar appointment
The Union education ministry on Thursday said that the orders issued by the Delhi University vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi during his leave of absence on medical grounds are not valid, and should not be acted upon by any functionary.Updated: Oct 23, 2020, 10:55 IST
New Delhi: The Union education ministry on Thursday said that the orders issued by the Delhi University vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi during his leave of absence on medical grounds are not valid, and should not be acted upon by any functionary.
The decision -- on a day of high drama at the university -- comes hours after Tyagi removed PC Joshi from the post of pro vice-chancellor after a bitter spat over the appointment of Vikas Gupta as registrar, a post which was lying vacant since November. Tyagi had also approved the appointment of Geeta Bhatt, a member of right-wing teachers’ group National Teachers’ Democratic Front (NDTF), as the new pro-V-C on Thursday.
The ministry said that Joshi, who was appointed the acting vice-chancellor, will continue to remain in the post, and that the admission process and academic activities should continue without any delay.
The directive means that Bhatt’s appointment as Pro-VC stands annulled, and so does a subsequent order ratified by her in which PC Jha was appointed as registrar.
Both Bhatt and Jha declined to comment on the matter.
The ministry, in a letter to Vikas Gupta -- whose appointment as registrar it appeared to back -- said that the orders by the vice-chancellor, issued while he was on leave, should not be acted upon. The ministry also communicated to Gupta that if Tyagi wants to join office, a proper medical fitness certificate should be obtained from him.
The ministry’s directives came after Joshi apprised the Centre of how a notification was issued on Wednesday announcing the appointment of Jha as the new registrar “even before the working hours and without his active knowledge”.
The ministry also sent a report to President Ram Nath Kovind apprising him of the developments. The President is the Visitor all Central universities.
The directives are expected to end a bitter tussle between two groups -- one led by Pro-VC Joshi and the other backed by V-C Tyagi -- over the appointment of the new registrar.
The saga unfolded over three frenetic days.
On Tuesday, Joshi had announced that the DU executive council (EC), the varsity’s highest decision-making body, would meet on Wednesday.
However, on Wednesday, even before the EC met, the joint registrar’s office issued a notice announcing the appointment of Jha as the new registrar. Hours after the notice, Joshi wrote to Jha accusing him of “illegally occupying” the registrar’s office, since it had not been ratified by the EC.
“In case you are not vacating the office immediately, you will be forcibly moved out of office and action initiated against you,” Joshi said in the letter to Jha.
Later that day, following the scheduled EC meeting, Joshi announced the appointment of Vikas Gupta as registrar.
An unsigned letter issued by the Tyagi faction, however, declared the EC meeting illegal.
On Thursday, even as Joshi announced that Gupta has assumed office as the new registrar, Jha issued an order removing Joshi as the pro vice-chancellor, and announced Bhatt’s appointment to that post.
“The V-C [Tyagi] has decided to replace Joshi with Geeta Bhatt. I will continue to hold the position of the registrar. I will soon join…”Jha told HT on Thursday morning.
Vice-chancellor Tyagi’s office also confirmed Bhatt’s appointment on Thursday evening, and issued a statement: “Dr Geeta Bhatt has been appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Delhi. She has assumed the charge as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the University of Delhi with effect from today the 22nd October 2020.”
After taking office the same day, Bhatt ratified a notification declaring Gupta’s appointment “illegal”.
“The notification issued by the then pro-VC (PC Joshi) is without any jurisdiction and lawful authority. It is an abuse of process of law stipulated in the DU Act, statutes and ordinances,” the notification read.
Till Wednesday, Suman Kundu had been in temporary charge as DU registrar.
Responding to allegations, PC Jha said, “The appointments of PC Joshi and Suman Kundu were also reported in the EC after they took charge.”
A senior official, requesting anonymity, said Jha’s office on Thursday issued a notice prohibiting Joshi and Kundu from visiting the office Viceregal Lodge (V-C’s office). “The notice read that they will only be allowed to visit the Viceregal Lodge with the permission of the registrar’s office,” the official said.
Officials in the administration and several teachers also questioned the legality of Jha’s and Bhatt’s appointments.
“The appointments of PC Joshi as the Pro-VC and Vikas Gupta as registrar were duly approved by the EC following all the norms. As per the DU norms, when the VC is on leave or is away for any other reason, the acting vice chancellor shall perform the functions of the VC. The acting vice chancellor can also chair the EC meeting. So, the meeting held on Wednesday was in accordance with the Statutes, Ordinances, and EC Regulations of the University,” said Rajesh Jha, an EC member.
Former DU pro-V-C Sudhish Pachauri, who had taken charge as acting VC for a few months between 2015 and 2016, said: “What happened is unfortunate. In DU, we follow some statutory rules while making appointments. Any appointment, including that of the pro V-C or registrar, has to be approved by the EC. In case that has not been done, it’s not legal.”