There is likely to be another delay in elections to statutory bodies at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU). Under the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, elections to these bodies, which help in running a university, were to be held latest by August 31. Lack of clarity over reservations and how they are to be applied, and an unclear picture of how many colleges affiliated to SPPU are yet to undergo accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), are the two main reasons for the delay.
The elections to the seats for graduate and affiliated college representatives on the Senate, which were scheduled to be the first elections under the new Act, were initially announced for October 8. However, university officials said it could take as long as the end of the Diwali vacations for the process to take off once again.
Under the new MU Act, elections are to be held for Senate, management council, academic council, boards of studies and board of examination — the bodies that are responsible for making policies and taking important decisions on administrative and academic matters at all state universities. In the last two years, SPPU has been functioning through bodies appointed on an ad-hoc basis, which are truncated bodies without elected members.
The Maharashtra government had suspended the statutory body elections after the end of tenure of the previous elected members in 2015, since the new Act was expected to modify the structure. However, nearly six months have passed since the Act came into effect and elections to these mandatory bodies are yet to commence.
“Several objections have been raised by concerned parties over certain aspects of the election process, mainly pertaining to reservations. We have written to the state government and are awaiting clarity on the same, after which the process can be started. However, given that Diwali is now approaching, we think it would be after that only,” said SPPU V-C N R Karmalkar.
When pressed for more details about these objections, SPPU registrar Arvind Shaligram clarified that under the new Act, representatives of only those colleges which are accredited by NAAC can contest elections to Senate and other bodies.
“Right now, it is not clear how many colleges have completed the accreditation process… As far as reservations go, under the new Act, there are several positions which come under reservation. In some positions, a single post comes under reservation and in some positions, 3-4 posts come under it. So if it is a single position, we can give it to an SC candidate, followed by ST and so on by rotation but if it is multiple, should all three go first to SC candidates or one to SC and others randomly to other categories. All these details are unclear and hence we have written to the state government for instructions,” said Shaligram.