The decision to suspend Delhi University Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Yogesh Tyagi on Wednesday, on the orders of President Ram Nath Kovind, over alleged dereliction of duty is the latest in a series of actions against V-Cs of central universities, and is representative of the government’s complicated relationship with them.
Under the Narendra Modi government, an unprecedented 11 central university V-Cs have either been sacked or have faced an inquiry, or were forced to resign/go on leave. In six cases, the government had moved against its own appointees.
Here are the V-Cs who faced the Modi government’s ire:
* On February 15, 2016, then President Pranab Mukherjee, in an unprecedented move, approved the sacking of Visva-Bharati V-C Sushanta Dattagupta, making it the first ever removal of a central university head in the country’s history. A UPA government appointee, Dattagupta was sacked on four counts, including charges of making 25 illegal appointments, drawing pension from JNU along with his salary from Visva-Bharati without getting it deducted from his pay, and getting his liquor bills reimbursed.
* The same year, the government also removed Chandra Krishnamurthy, V-C of Pondicherry University, on charges of academic fraud. Appointed by the UPA-2, Krishnamurthy, the ministry probe found, had authored only one book against the claim of three in her CV.
* Uttarakhand V-C Jawahar Lal Kaul’s sacking in December 2017 was the first instance of the Modi government giving the axe to one of its own appointees in a central university. Kaul was dismissed on charges of allowing affiliated colleges to increase seats above the permitted limit and undercharging affiliation fee.
* Manipur University head Aadya Prasad Pandey first came under the scanner in August 2018 when an agitation by students and teachers paralysed the university for over a month. An inquiry found that he was absent from the campus for almost 200 days out of the 583 he served as V-C from October 26, 2016, to May 30, 2018. He was sacked in February this year.
* In two instances, central university V-Cs resigned before the end of their term anticipating government action. Allahabad University head Rattan Lal Hangloo resigned in January this year, even as the government moved a proposal seeking President Ram Nath Kovind’s approval for initiating an inquiry into financial and academic allegations against him. Arvind Agrawal, V-C of Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Bihar, quit in October 2019 amid allegations of falsifying his academic records. The resignation came within weeks of the government seeking his comments on allegations of fudging information about his PhD degree and academic performance at the undergraduate level.
* BHU V-C G C Tripathi was asked by the government to go on leave in 2017 even as he was at the centre of a storm over his alleged mishandling of protests by women students over an incident of alleged sexual harassment on campus and several cases of alleged institutional bias against women. He finished his term while on leave. Tripathi was the fourth head of a central university appointed during Smriti Irani’s stint as Education (then HRD) Minister who either quit or were sacked or sent on leave before completing their term.
* Inquiries initiated against heads of Delhi University (Dinesh Singh), Jamia Millia Islamia (Talat Ahmad), Aligarh Muslim University (Zameeruddin Shah), IGNOU (Mohammad Aslam) were either closed or put on the backburner.
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