Convention developed by the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to appoint any “eminent person” as its Vice-Chancellor came under criticism on Tuesday, with the Supreme Court questioning the university whether it could also appoint “a singer, a sportsman or a musician” as V-C.
“Can anybody, unconnected with academics, be also appointed? What is the criteria? There is no qualification, no eligibility criteria, no search committee…who proposes the appointment? Can anyone become the V-C?,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur asked the AMU’s counsel.
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Defending the practice, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said that the university, in its wisdom, appoints eminent persons for the top post. He also referred to Vice President Hamid Ansari, a career diplomat, and said that being an eminent person, he was appointed the V-C of the university from 2000 to ’02.
But the bench retorted, “So does it mean that even a singer, a sportsman, a musician can be selected as the vice-chancellor?”
The hearing, however, had to be deferred as Prashant Bhushan, lawyer for the petitioner who had challenged what his plea called an “arbitrary” practice to select the V-C, was unavailable to argue because of a surgery. The bench adjourned the hearing to December 6.
The 2010 regulations by the University Grants Commission (UGC) prescribe minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and academic staff, but the AMU has sought immunity from the regulation on the ground that it has not adopted the norms yet.
In its submission to the bench, the UGC has said that its regulations, once notified in the gazette, had the force of law and were “statutorily mandatory” for all central universities irrespective of whether state governments or universities had formally adopted them or not.
But the HRD Ministry, in its affidavit, told the court that the state governments and central universities were required to formally adopt the regulations and that there could not be an automatic amendment because the UGC had come up with new rules.
The differences between the ministry and UGC has come to the fore as they responded to a petition that sought a direction to quash the appointment of AMU Vice-chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah in May 2012.