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PU syndicate meet: Uproar over V-C’s affidavit in high court

Members ask Grover to withdraw affidavit on governance reforms, but he sticks to his stand

punjab Updated: Apr 22, 2018 20:41 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
PU syndicate meet,Uproar,Panjab University
Professor Arun Kumar Grover

The Panjab University syndicate meeting that lasted only 20 minutes on Saturday witnessed an uproar over the vice-chancellor’s affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana high court suggesting governance reforms.

The members objected to vice-chancellor (V-C) Arun K Grover’s submission in court, questioning his right to do so without bringing up the matter before the syndicate, the varsity’s executive body.

Grover in the affidavit submitted on April 17 sought reforms in PU governance, raising the issue of groupism in the senate — varsity’s apex governing body. The affidavit states that factionalism has reached such a level that discussions in the senate do not happen on merit anymore. It also puts a question mark on elections for deans of faculties and graduate constituency of the senate.

Even as the syndicate signed a resolution demanding withdrawal of the affidavit, Grover stood his ground.

Bone of contention
  • The affidavit was filed during resumed hearing on poor financial health of the varsity and just four months ahead of Grover’s retirement, who is completing his second term. The varsity has already initiated process of appointing his successor. Grover has had several run-ins with a section of senators during his two terms.
  • The affidavit states that groupism is such that new initiatives for sustenance of the university are getting thwarted for want of consensus in the syndicate and senate while serious offenders are getting away due to technicalities.
  • Referring to 15 members from the graduate constituency, the court was told that one needs only 2,000 to 3,000 votes to get elected. Also, the university’s resources and staff get stretched to extreme while conducting the elections, the affidavit stated.
  • The affidavit also pointed out that during the election to deans of faculties, only those win who have support of senate members. It was suggested that deans should be appointed from among senior professors

‘In my personal capacity’

Syndicate member Prabhjit Singh was the one to raise the matter when the meeting began on Saturday. He said he came to know about the affidavit through newspapers and its content disturbed him.

Taking names of senators such as Ronki Ram, BS Ghuman and GK Chatrath, who have remained deans, Singh questioned the V-C if he thought they got elected due to groupism.

Grover told the members that the affidavit was filed in his personal capacity, which raised further objections as to why it was then submitted on behalf of the university.

The members even objected to Grover’s statement about factionalism in the PU senate. They said though there might be groups in the governing body, the V-C should not have maligned the institution.

On Grover’s failure to bring up the affidavit before the syndicate in advance, one of the members did defend him, stating that he had the right to do so as he was just replying to the high court’s query.

Walkout ends meet

Later, Grover walked out of the hall over the use of “unparliamentary language” by one of the syndicate members. The member had questioned the V-C over allegedly not allowing syndics to have tea with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to the campus for a memorial lecture earlier this month.

The meeting continued for some time under syndic Gurjot Singh Malhi till the V-C returned and adjourned it. The leftover agenda items will be taken up during the next sitting of syndicate on April 29. The syndicate was to discuss revision in fee structure, room rent in PU Guest House and rent of auditoriums, seminar halls and lawns on the campus among other important issues. However, no discussion took place.

After the meeting was adjourned, Grover sent a message to syndicate members, stating that he will not withdraw the affidavit but inform the court that he submitted it in his personal capacity.

“I have been going to court hearings since October 20, 2016, and I have been saying the same things I said that day. It is my personal comprehension of the matter. I will not withdraw the affidavit but will inform the court that it is in my personal capacity,” he said.

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 12:12 IST