Alleging that Rajan Welukar, Vice-Chancellor of Mumbai University, was trying to settle personal scores by suspending him since he had challenged the former’s appointment, Prof Neeraj Hatekar has now filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, appealing that his suspension order be squashed and set aside.
Hatekar, working with the Mumbai University since June 1992, was suspended on January 4 on the grounds of violating the code of conduct and for moral turpitude.
Terming the suspension “illegal, bad in law and arbitrary”, the petitioner said the provisions of Section 14 (9) of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, did not empower Welukar to suspend him. He added that as per regulations, the authority to suspend a teacher was given only to the management council.
Alleging that Welukar did not have the requisite qualification, and based on “tremendous political links and political patronage” he was appointed as the V-C, Hatekar said his action of filing an affidavit “has not been taken in the right spirit by Welukar and he has been trying to take revenge”.
Welukar did not respond to calls or text message. Hatekar’s petition further claimed that while he had also challenged in a writ petition an accelerated promotion given to one of the teachers with the V-C’s active support, the court has prima facie found it illegal and passed an interim order in Hatekar’s favour.
The petition claims the university administration also had co-opted members to the various board of studies as post-graduate teachers, in complete contravention of the Maharashtra Universities Act.
“In light of these issues, the petitioner had called for a press conference on December 12, in his capacity as convenor of the ‘Joint Action Committee for the Improvement of Higher Education in Maharashtra’, in which the petitioner pointed out 16 issues demanding an immediate solution to improve the educational standards of the university….The respondents have taken the easiest way to deal with these issues by invoking the provisions of Section 14 (9) and have thereby suspended the petitioner,” it said.
Hatekar said in the petition that Section 14(9) did not give the V-C the authority to place someone under suspension.
“The management council has been empowered to suspend a teacher, pending an inquiry, if it is satisfied that there is a prima facie case for termination. The code of conduct provides that ordinary suspension shall not be ordered, unless on the basis of evidence available there is a prima facie case for dismissal or direction. No such case has been made out in the suspension order or otherwise,” it says.
The petition also cites that a resolution must be passed by the management council to suspend teachers, and since no such resolution was passed, Welukar’s action was illegal. It further states that pending the hearing and final disposal of the petition, the suspension order should be stayed and unless such interim relief is granted, Hatekar would “suffer greater harm and prejudice”.