Madras HC sets aside appointment of Madurai Kamaraj University vice-chancellor

The bench also directed re-constitution of the committee for selecting a panel of three names for appointment as Madurai Kamaraj University vice-chancellor.

tamil nadu Updated: Jun 15, 2018 11:31 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Chennai
Madurai Kamaraj University,Madurai Kamaraj University vice-chancellor,Madras High Court
File photo of Madras high court. (PTI)

The Madras High Court has set aside the appointment of PP Chellathurai as vice-chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU).

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar delivered its judgement on Thursday on petitions by M Lionel Antony Raj and from social activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy challenging the appointment.

Chellathurai was appointed vice-chancellor of the university in May, 2017.

The bench also directed re-constitution of the committee for selecting a panel of three names for appointment as MKU vice-chancellor.

“Out of three members of the search committee, two members are saying there was virtually no discussion, deliberation, consultation, much less consensus with regard to the three names that were ultimately given to the Chancellor in the garb of recommendation,” the bench observed.

The bench further said it was submitted by two of the three members that one of the three names in the panel was thrust upon them and included in the panel by the third member of the panel, also the convener of the committee.

“It is also the case of these two members that one name (who was ultimately appointed Vice-Chancellor of MKU) was thrust upon them and included in the panel without heeding to their objections and on the teeth of their objections/ protestations,” it said.

It is clear the committee should be independent and should be a broad-based one paving the way for broad-based consultation, deliberations and debates, so that a candidate who is the best blend of eligibility and suitability is selected, the bench added.

It also observed that when appointments to such high offices, particularly academic institutions like universities are made, it cannot be sustained when two out of a three-member committee take a diametrically opposite stand and say they never wanted the appointee to be recommended and in fact opposed his inclusion in the panel.

All was not well among members of the search committee, the bench observed and ordered constitution of a search panel afresh and the process redone.

“Considering the high office that is in question i.e, office of the Vice-Chancellor of a reputed University like MKU, wherein the Vice-Chancellor shall not only be the academic head, but also the chief executive officer of the entire university, we consider it necessary to take a view that the search committee has to be constituted afresh and the process of selection has to be redone.”

The bench said the facts and discussion of the same left no doubt that there is a clear violation of statute, i.e., MKU Act and more importantly such violation pertains to the selection process and procedure.

The new search committee shall embark upon the process of selecting a panel of three names for appointment as MKU Vice-Chancellor in accordance with Madurai Kamaraj University Act, 1965 and all other applicable statutes, after due deliberations, consultations and discussions among themselves, it said.

The bench also directed the new committee not to preclude Chellathurai from applying again and complete the process of evaluation of the candidate within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of the order.

The panel of three names shall be submitted to the chancellor within this period, it said.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 11:31 IST