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Amend statutes or face UGC fund cut: Tamil Nadu High Court tells government

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The Hindu | | Staff Reporter |

The litigation was filed last year when the MKU Vice Chancellor Search Committee notified minimum qualification for aspirants that were contrary to what was prescribed in the UGC Regulations 2010.

Noting that the University Grants Commission (UGC) could penalise universities which do not function in accordance with its regulations, the Madras High Court on Wednesday nudged the State Government to amend the statutes governing its universities to adopt the UGC Regulations of 2010. “The Government should now be quite aware of the consequences which will flow to them on their inaction or refusal to amend the provision of the statutes (of the State universities) in line with the UGC Regulations and should be ready to face them. This may entail difficulty in the functioning of the State universities on account of the lack of support and fund flow from the UGC,” the First Bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayan observed.  “It would, no doubt, be advisable and desirable for the State Government to amend the Acts in terms of the UGC Regulations,” the judges added while closing a public interest litigation petition filed by eminent academician Prof. M Anandakrishnan and social activist A. Narayanan challenging the dilution of norms in selecting the Vice Chancellor for the Madurai Kamaraj University.

The litigation was filed last year when the MKU Vice Chancellor Search Committee notified minimum qualification for aspirants to the top post that were contrary to what was prescribed in the UGC Regulations 2010. While the apex regulatory body had prescribed that only a candidate who has served as professor for a minimum period of 10 years as one of the qualifications for a Vice Chancellor aspirant, the Search Committee had invited application including from Assistant Professors. The petitioners alleged that large-scale corruptions have occurred in various universities, and to prevent such scams, the universities must follow the guidelines prescribed by the UGC while making appointments to key posts. In its counter, the State government contended that under the provisions of the Madurai Kamaraj University Act, 1965 a search committee was constituted by the Chancellor. “The Search Committee, being an independent and autonomous body, can prescribe the eligibility criteria for the post of Vice Chancellor. The UGC regulations are mandatory only for the Central Universities and not for other educational institutions under the purview of State legislation,” it argued.

However, the UGC counsel made it clear that the Search Committee has got no powers to fix new qualification lower than the UGC norms, and hence, the action of the Committee is without jurisdiction. Further, the UGC could penalise universities which violated its guidelines. On behalf of the Search Committee, it was submitted that since the State government has not officially adopted the UGC Regulations 2010, the Madurai Kamaraj University had not amended its Act and statutes in line with the UGC guidelines. Hence, it was not bound by the UGC Regulations. In their order, the judges, noting that not all universities are able to adopt an appointment procedure with little or no government involvement, said there is no doubt that some facts about the manner of appointment of Vice Chancellor should be given consideration. The bench observed that it is obvious that the selection of Vice Chancellor does not only depend upon the norms laid down in the State and Universities Act and the UGC guidelines but also other contextual factors like regional, State and communal pressures. –  Courtesy


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