A defamation case has been filed against Delhi University Professor Nandita Narain and Professor Badshah Alam from Jamia Millia Islamia by the administration of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for allegedly defaming its Vice-Chancellor, Lt Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah. Narain, who is also president of the Federation of Central University Teachers Associations (FEDCUTA), has been accused, as per the case, of calling Shah a ‘mafia’ and a ‘don’ during a press conference in Aligarh in November 2015. Alam too has been accused of making certain remarks against the V-C at the same event.
AMU’s PRO Omar Saleem Peerzada confirmed that the suit had been filed in Aligarh’s civil court and its first hearing is scheduled on October 20. Shah said the court had summoned both Alam and Narain, but did not divulge more details.
Nandita Narain told The Indian Express she had already hired a counsel who will be representing her in court on Thursday. She alleged that the case had been filed just to “put pressure” on FEDCUTA and the AMU Teachers’ Association (AMUTA), who are “fighting against alleged mass-level irregularities prevailing in the institution, which are directly linked with the present V-C”.
“He (Shah) has not done anything legal since he took over the V-C’s seat. The admissions are illegal, so are the appointments. He is suspending people for petty reasons, like he suspended a senior from AMUTA for being rude to him. He is trying to threaten and intimidate people in AMU who raise their voice against him,” said Narain. She denied the allegations made against her, adding that whatever she had said then was in a different context, which she will explain in court.
“They thought to file the defamation after a year. Shockingly, the AMU is filing defamation while the one who has allegedly been defamed is Zameeruddin Shah. He is against misusing the funds of the university for his own interests. FEDCUTA too will file a case against the V-C for misusing the varsity’s funds,” she said.
Vice-president of FEDCUTA and AMUTA president Professor Mujahid Beg told Express that AMUTA will support FEDCUTA and fight against the V-C. “We will reveal the real face of the V-C and things must become clear now,” he said.
Meanwhile, following the President’s nod to initiate an inquiry against Shah, AMUTA also demanded that the government ask Shah to go on leave till the conclusion of the inquiry.
“We welcome the move of the Government of India to institute an inquiry into the affairs of the university as a result of our long-standing demand,” said AMUTA Honorary Secretary SM Zaidi after the association’s executive committee meeting on Tuesday. “We have requested that the powers of the Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor be ceased forthwith and they should be asked to proceed on leave. This is necessary so that they are not able to influence and pressurise potential witnesses and thus the process of the inquiry into irregular appointments, promotions, awarding of benefits etc,” he added.
Zaidi said that a general body meeting of AMUTA would be convened on October 27 to discuss the future course of action.