August 12, 2011 2:22:43 am
Mahesh Rangarajan,professor of history at Delhi University,has taken over as the new director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). He was appointed on Wednesday,the day the Delhi High Court sought a response from the Centre on a petition by five historians who challenged the legality of the procedure followed by its executive council in ensuring appointment of a particular candidate.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the government to file its affidavit on the plea by historians Arjun Dev,Irfan Habib,Shireen Moosvi,Bipan Chandra and D N Gupta. The historians had to file an amended petition after the court pointed out technical lacuna in their earlier petition filed in July.
On Wednesday,as the matter came up for hearing,the counsel for the historians raised questions over the procedure adopted by the NMML executive council in amending the bylaws to ensure a particular candidate was appointed its new director.
The counsel also argued that the society running the museum should be treated as a state under the Constitution as its members were nominated by the Central government and more than 99 per cent of the funding also came from the government.
As per the the counsel,since the society was a state,the appointment could come under the scrutiny of the court and the bench could issue direction to the government to choose an individual of its own choice for the post of director. The amendment,the counsel said,was done to avoid proper investigation into the affairs of the society.
At this,the bench sought a response from the governments counsel who raised doubts about the timing of the petition.
The court,while entertaining this petition,must also take note of the timing of the petition. The process to appoint the new director is almost complete. Therefore,the court must also remain careful,in view of the questions raised by the timing of the plea, the counsel contended.
The bench then gave the government three weeks to reply.
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