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Monday, November 23, 2020

Amid power tussle in DU, Education Ministry considers removing V-C

The high drama this week has given the government a firm ground for his dismissal. “Given his health condition, we had been ignoring a lot of things, but what happened this week was embarrassing,” the ministry source added.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2020 9:45:00 am
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DU Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi’s position in the institution has become untenable after the ugly power tussle between him and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor played out publicly this week. The Ministry of Education, The Indian Express has learnt, is keen on the V-C’s ouster and is considering several options — from a forced leave to seeking his resignation (informally) and, in the worst-case scenario, even invoking the General Clauses Act to fire him.

The General Clauses Act, 1987, can be invoked to remove a central university V-C if the varsity Act does not have a provision for removing the institution’s head. Section 16 empowers the appointing authority — under any central Act or regulation — to “suspend or dismiss any person appointed”. The government had fired former Visva-Bharati V-C Sushanta Dattagupta in 2016 under this provision. Tyagi could not be reached for comment.

The ministry, sources said, has made attempts in the past to build a case for Tyagi’s removal.

Among the occasions when this was informally discussed was when he did not heed repeated reminders for filling up faculty posts lying vacant for years, and his handling of last year’s teachers’ protest over reappointment of ad hoc teachers. The government had intervened to resolve the crisis. “All the V-C had to do was to clarify that the clarified ad hoc faculty can continue teaching till permanent appointments are made. But it wasn’t done till the ministry forced him to,” said a ministry source.

“His term is marked by inaction. It’s challenging to find irregularities when you’ve hardly done any work in the office,” said a former ministry officer on condition of anonymity. The high drama this week has given the government a firm ground for his dismissal. “Given his health condition, we had been ignoring a lot of things, but what happened this week was embarrassing,” the ministry source added.

Tyagi Wednesday had gone head to head with Pro V-C P C Joshi over appointing a new Registrar. On Thursday, the government issued a strongly-worded order snubbing Tyagi, declaring his contentious appointments to the Registrar’s post as invalid.

Not backing down, P C Jha, appointed registrar by Tyagi, wrote to the Ministry. Citing the Ministry’s letter Thursday, he said, “The letter has been addressed to Shri Vikas Gupta as Registrar, University of Delhi… It is informed that Professor P C Jha, in addition to his responsibilities as Director South Campus, is acting as Registrar, University of Delhi as an interim arrangement.”

He also said Dr Geeta Bhatt was appointed Pro V-C in place of Prof P C Joshi and that Tyagi had taken the decisions in “due compliance with the Act, Statutes and Ordinances of Delhi University”.

Tyagi has been on leave since he was admitted to AIIMS on July 2 under “emergency medical condition”. The government had given Joshi charge of V-C on July 17 until Tyagi resumed office.

There has been complete communication breakdown between the V-C and government since the drama erupted this week, said sources. Tyagi’s term ends in five months. “A search committee is formed to suggest names for the next DU V-C, and the Executive Council gets to pick at least some of the members… It becomes important who is in the EC,” said an Academic Council member. The Registrar is the EC secretary.

Teachers across political groups, despite their allegiance, agree that “inaction” is what characterises Tyagi’s tenure.

A K Bhagi, from RSS-backed National Democratic Teachers’ Front said, “Not just promotions and appointments but there has been no academic growth either. Administrative posts were either left vacant or the same person was appointed on multiple posts.”

“He may be on official leave but for all practical purposes, he has been on leave since the beginning,” said EC member Rajesh Jha.

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