IN THE controversy surrounding the removal of Professor Emanual Nahar as dean of students’ welfare (DSW) by Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday censured the PU authorities for alleged tampering with the record.
However, to “bury the hatchet” in the “open fight between Senators and the V-C”, it ordered that the seniormost PU professor be appointed as interim DSW and asked the varsity to convene a Senate meeting on September 29 for them to take a decision regarding the Syndicate’s recommendation for Nahar’s extension as DSW till next year.
During the resumed hearing of PU’s appeal against a single bench decision restoring Nahar’s position as DSW, the division bench of Justices Rakesh Kumar Jain and Arun Kumar Tyagi said it was an open fight among the Senators and V-C, but after a few observations — against the conduct of PU authorities in the matter — asserted that it “will not comment any further” in order to save face of the university.
“If there was no decision (in Senate meet), the university had no business to pass this order,” the court observed. Senior Advocate Gurminder Singh, who represents Nahar in the case, submitted that it is apparent that recorded minutes of meeting had been tampered with.
“Has the Registrar done this tampering? We will call him and record his statement on oath. If we find this has been created and did not happen in the meeting, it is a very, very serious matter,” observed the court. Gurminder Singh submitted that PU should show video proof of the Senate meeting that the agenda regarding DSW extensions was “resolved” as is recorded in the official documents.
Cornering the PU counsels over the mention of a “Senate resolution” in the order on removal of Professor Nahar and appointment of a new DSW in his place, the court said, “Who has issued this office order? If people running the university are behaving this way, then God save the country. Nobody is above the law.”
While the order dated August 22 referred to a Senate resolution as a premise for appointment of new DSWs and simultaneous removal of Nahar, the PU counsels in court conceded that there was no resolution.
“Can the single judge have closed his eyes to this?” submitted Gurminder. The court responded saying, “We cannot”, and turning to the counsels representing the PU said it will give them one day to make the V-C understand the consequences of an order which could be passed by the court. As heated arguments ensued between Nahar’s counsel and PU counsels who argued that no decision was taken by the Senate and the V-C has the authority to make interim arrangements in the meantime, the court observed that it wants to pass an order with the consensus of both the parties to save the situation.
‘Something is wrong’
“I strongly feel something is wrong,” observed Justice Jain as the PU counsels and those representing Nahar continued their arguments and disagreements over the proposal given by the court for a consensual order. PU counsels continued to argue that the provision in the university calendar regarding V-C’s power in the Syndicate needs to be interpreted. PU’s argument is that the the recommendation for DSW appointment cannot go to the Senate for approval without V-C’s assent even if all other members of Syndicate have approved the same.
Earlier, Gurminder Singh argued that the minutes of the August 22 Senate meeting were intentionally withheld from the single judge, who heard the matter on September 2, and played before court video clips of the Senate meet which, according to him, show 48 members supporting the Syndicate recommendation on Nahar’s extension.
Gurminder added that certain things have been “transplanted” in the minutes and it amounts to perjury. A senior counsel representing PU rebutted Gurminder’s submission regarding withholding of the minutes, saying it was factually wrong as the minutes were recorded later.
“Certain things have been omitted and added (in the recorded minutes) to mislead the court,” he submitted, adding that it was “a murder of a democratic institution” at the August 22 Senate meeting. “It is not a laughing matter,” he added as some counsels representing the PU smirked at his argument.
During the hearing, the court repeatedly asked the PU to show the resolution on the basis of which Nahar was purportedly removed and a new DSW was given charge. “Where is the resolution recorded? If it is not there, then it is manipulation,” observed the court. “Everything is videographed. He is alleging that the resolution was added later (in the minutes). Show it was passed that day, the matter is over”.
PU counsel taking the argument back submitted that it has to be first decided whether the Syndicate recommendation could have been taken up by the Senate at all since it was without the recommendation of V-C.
In the order passed, the court said that PU will convene a meeting of the Senate on September 29 for consideration of the Syndicate recommendation, which is to be videographed as usual. The legal questions in the matter have been kept open for decision by the single judge before whom Nahar’s case is pending.