IN a huge setback to Mumbai University vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar, a few months before his retirement, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the search committee to give its finding on the issues raised over his appointment for the VC’s post.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice B P Colabawalla asked for the formation of the search committee within two weeks by the Governor. The committee will have to decide on the issue over Welukar’s eligibility in holding the office. Their decision on the matter will again be placed before the court after six weeks.
Keeping in mind the order of the other bench, the court said the university should place the matter before the search committee to consider the question of Welukar’s eligibility.
“Leave it open to petitioners to place any other material before the search committee within two weeks from today,” the bench ordered.
One of the petitioners, who have challenged Welukar’s appointment, in the case, said that he was not a good academic as he had scored 55 per cent in his MPhil exam.
“His appointment was ad-hoc and therefore doesn’t qualify to be a teacher under the University Act. His appointment was not in 1983 but September 1985 and on this basis he doesn’t have a minimum teaching experience,” claimed his lawyer Pankaj Kowli.
The HC bench of Justices P V Hardas and Anuja Prabhudessai, in their order on December 11, had said that the decision of a search committee to include Welukar’s name in the list of contenders for the post of vice-chancellor “suffered from non-application of mind”.
The bench questioned the existence of any such provision in law for seeking such clarification.
Earlier, on August 10, 2011, a bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice G Godbole had given a split verdict on the issue. The matter was then referred to a single judge, Justice S J Vazifdar, who on February 22, 2012 agreed with Justice Godbole, but could not decide on the issue. Thereafter, on May 11, 2012 the matter was referred to a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas to decide on the two questions formulated in reference order in August 2011.
The requirement for having minimum five research publications after PhD in international peer reviewed journals which should be reference for studies in higher education is one of the criteria for being shortlisted for the post of VC. This was the subject matter of the PILs challenging Welukar’s appointment.