A single judge of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday held that there was inadequate material at present to decide whether the appointment of Dr Rajan Welukar as the Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of Mumbai University was valid or not.
However,Justice S J Vazifdar also said that if it is established that the appointment was made by the university search committee without appropriate consideration,the court should exercise its powers to direct reconsideration of the issue.
A group of petitions challenging Dr Welukars appointment was referred to the single judge after a Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Girish Godbole gave a split verdict on the issue last August. While Chief Justice Shah had declined to interfere with the appointment,Justice Godbole directed the state government to reconstitute the search committee for the limited purpose of deciding whether Welukar is qualified in terms of his education.
On the principle issue of research publications put forth by the V-C in support of his candidature,Justice Vazifdar noted that it was an admitted position that seven of 12 publications do not meet the requirements as they did not pertain to the period after the eighth respondent (Welukar)s PhD.
He further held that the record before the court was not sufficient to indicate whether the search committee considered only the remaining five relevant publications or not. However,he also added,If even one of the relevant five publications was not found to be in conformity,and the search committee therefore considered one of the seven irrelevant publications,the appointment would have to be reconsidered.
The judge further said,I am unable to agree with the learned Chief Justice that the appointment ought not to be interfered with even if it is illegal.
The search committee has now been asked to specify which publications had been taken into consideration for the V-Cs appointment. The case will now be heard on this point by a Bench headed by the Chief Justice.
Reacting to the judgment,A D Sawant,one of the petitioners,said: The search committee is clearly at fault in its appointment. Now,it will come on record. He (Welukar) was never a recognised PhD guide and the publications listed by him are either fictitious or inadequate. However,on the whole,it is a positive judgment and I am looking forward to the hearing in the case before the Division Bench.