The University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary, objecting to the constitution of search-cum-selection committees for the appointment of vice-chancellors to state universities without a nominee of the commission chairman, reported PTI.
Referring to a notification dated 13 September in the Tamil Nadu government gazette to constitute a search committee to recommend a panel of three persons for the selection of vice-chancellor for the University of Madras, the UGC has warned that the appointment of a vice-chancellor in violation of the higher-education regulator’s norms shall be “null and void” and can lead to legal complications.
“The UGC has pointed out a Supreme Court judgement from last year, referring to the appointment of the vice-chancellor at Sardar Patel University, Gujarat. The Supreme Court had noted that the appointment of vice-chancellors cannot be made dehors the applicable UGC regulations, even if the State Act concerned prescribes diluted eligibility criteria vis-a-vis the criteria prescribed by UGC regulations,” a source told PTI.
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and the state’s DMK-led government have been at loggerheads about the appointments of vice-chancellors.
The issue started on 6 September, with Ravi issuing a notification in his capacity as chancellor of universities constituting three search-cum-selection committees to recommend three names each to the posts of vice-chancellors for the University of Madras, Bharathiar University (BU), and the Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University (TNTEU).
For Madras University, Ravi appointed Battu Satyanarayana, vice-chancellor of Central University of Karnataka, as the Chancellor’s nominee and the convener of the committee. K Deenabandu, a Member of the Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission was appointed as the university Syndicate’s nominee, and P Jagadeesan, former vice-chancellor of Bharathidasan University, as the Senate’s nominee.
Further, the Governor inducted HCS Rathore, former vice-chancellor of the Central University of South Bihar, as the UGC chairman’s nominee.
Questioning the Governor’s authority in appointing search-cum-selection committee members, Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy said that the committees were unilaterally constituted. He termed the appointments illegal.
‘Governed by Tamil Nadu laws’
The minister also maintained that the universities in Tamil Nadu were governed by their laws and there was no mandate to include the UGC chairman’s nominee.
He further said that the government would legally face the notification issued by the Governor.
On 13 September, the principal secretary of the Higher Education Department, issued a gazette notification of a search committee, excluding the UGC chairman’s nominee, but retaining the other three members, as appointed earlier.
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has asked the state government to withdraw a gazette notification of a search-cum-selection committee to appoint a vice-chancellor to the University of Madras, terming it “void ab initio”.
In the directive issued on 26 September, the Raj Bhavan said the notification by the principal secretary of the Department of Higher Education was “an act of impropriety”. The notification had excluded the UGC chairman’s nominee from the committee.
(With PTI inputs)