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The Union government on Thursday sacked the Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University after finding him guilty of administrative irregularities. Jawahar Lal Kaul was appointed V-C by the incumbent government in November 2014, when Smriti Irani was the HRD Minister. He had a little less than two years left in office.
According to sources in the university, Kaul’s dismissal, based on the President’s approval, was received by the administration on Thursday evening. The Indian Express could not reach him for a comment. Kaul is the third central university head — after Sushanta Dattagupta of Visva-Bharati University and Chandra Krishnamurthy of Pondicherry University — to be dismissed by the ministry in the current regime. However, this is the first instance of this government removing its own appointee in a central university.
As first reported by The Indian Express on November 21, the HRD Ministry had forwarded a proposal to President Ram Nath Kovind to dismiss Kaul and justified it on two counts. First, he allegedly allowed colleges to increase intake in some courses to 200 seats, even though university rules permit only 60 seats in each programme and 80 in exceptional cases. Second, he took a decision to charge a college affiliation fee lower than the prescribed amount.
Kaul was served a showcause notice in February based on the conclusions of a two-member fact-finding committee set up to probe complaints from the Central Vigilance Commission last year alleging administrative mismanagement. He was given three weeks to present his defence regarding five allegations, including the charge of approving backdated affiliation to a few teacher training institutes. The notice also accused him of allowing the university to declare examination results of some private institutes when the status of their affiliation to the university was under the scanner.
Kaul’s defence against allegations of allowing colleges to increase seats above the permitted limit and undercharging affiliation fee was found unsatisfactory by the ministry and, hence, shown as grounds for sacking. The President approved the proposal earlier this month. Kaul, however, quit the post on December 18, before the government could issue his sacking order. But his resignation was not accepted and the ministry ordered his dismissal on Thursday instead.
Before his appointment as Garhwal University head, Kaul was the V-C of Ujjain-based Vikram University. During his term there, he was manhandled by members of Bajrang Dal and VHP when he issued an appeal to help organise relief for victims when Kashmir was devastated by floods in September 2014.