Despite UGC norms and directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Panjab University has failed to implement a reservation policy for SC/ST in its governing bodies i.e. the Senate and the Syndicate.
In order to draw the attention of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), a few students of PU have now sent a letter the MHRD Minister Smriti Irani, Chancellor of Panjab University and Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Through the letter, the students have requested the implementation of the reservation policy in the upcoming elections of the Senate. “The schedule for the elections has already been released, without adopting the guidelines for the reservation policy. The election process should be withheld till these guidelines are implemented,” said Jaideep Kumar, a PhD scholar at PU who addressed the letter. The letter has also been forwarded to the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.
As per a legal notice sent by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to Panjab University in 2009, the university was directed to create a 25 percent reservation in all its governing bodies, including the PU Senate and Syndicate. After having received the notice, a committee was formed under the then PU Vice-Chancellor Professor RC Sobti to implement the decision. However, no action has been initiated in this regard, so far.
Additionally, as per the Reservation Policy of the University Grants Commission (2006), reservation for SC/ST categories is to be provided in all governing and executive bodies of universities, including the Senate and Syndicate.
Clarifying that the issue had been raised in the recent meeting of the PU Think Tank, Professor Ronki Ram said, “It was highlighted by members of the Think Tank that there needs to be proper representation of minorities in the university governing bodies i.e. the Senate and the Syndicate. Currently, there are a few nominations that are made from SC/ST backgrounds, but the reservation policy is not in place. It provides for 33 percent seats to women and at least 25 percent to people from SC/ST background.” Agreeing that there needs to be a reservation for minorities in the university governing bodies, he also added that the issue would now be taken up by the university authorities for careful consideration.
According to Professor Emanuel Nahar from Panjab University, after this issue was raised a few years back, a committee was constituted to make some recommendations for the reservation policy. However, no final decision was taken by the committee. Professor Nahar also added, “Appointments to the Senate are the prerogative of the Chancellor of the university, which is why it is up to him to consider the reservation. Even the Panjab University Calendar is entirely silent on the nominations made for the Senate and Syndicate.”