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On top job in AMU, HRD has a rethink

The differences between the ministry and UGC came to the fore as they responded to a petition that sought a direction to quash the appointment of AMU vice-chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah in May 2012.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
August 10, 2016 4:21:08 am
AMU, AMU VC, AMU VC appointment, AMU head appointment, Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, Zameer Uddin Shah, Zameer Uddin Shah AMU, HRD ministry, UGC, India news, Education news Aligarh Muslim University (Express Archive)

Days after it sought to assert that Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was not a minority institution but a central university, the HRD Ministry has decided not to support the University Grants Commission (UGC) in holding that the AMU was bound by its regulations like other central universities.

An affidavit filed by the ministry in the Supreme Court has countered the submission by UGC on whether AMU was obligated under law to abide by UGC Regulations, 2010, which prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and academic staff.

The UGC had told the court that its regulations, once notified in the gazette, had the force of law and were “statutorily mandatory” for all central universities irrespective of whether state governments or universities had formally adopted them or not.

But the HRD ministry, in its affidavit filed last week, has stated that state governments and central universities were required to formally adopt the regulations and that there could not be an automatic amendment because UGC had come up with new rules.

The differences between the ministry and UGC came to the fore as they responded to a petition that sought a direction to quash the appointment of AMU vice-chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah in May 2012.

AMU alumni Syed Abrar Ahmed challenged the appointment on the ground that Shah did not fulfill UGC regulations as he had not worked for at least 10 years as a professor in a university or on an equivalent post in a research or academic institute. After the Allahabad High Court ruled in favour of the appointment, Ahmed appealed in the top court.

The UGC filed its affidavit in March, stating that its regulations have the force of law and are not dependent upon adoption by a state government since after the notification, they were legally binding on all central universities.

This argument jeopardised Shah’s appointment as V-C since the UGC meant that any appointment in violation of its 2010 Regulations was bad in law, more so when AMU had approved, adopted and implemented these regulations.

However, the HRD ministry stated that after a Supreme Court ruling in 2015, it wrote to all central universities to adopt the regulations and carry out amendments to their own statutes.

As far as appointment of V-C for AMU was concerned, the ministry refrained from taking a stand. It pointed out that
the clause regarding the V-C’s appointment had been kept in abeyance by AMU when it went ahead with the appointment in 2012.

The university had sent a panel of three names to the HRD ministry. “The Ministry did not take a rigid stand at the time of forwarding the panel to the Visitor (President) in May 2012 as the post of vice-chancellor was vacant and was required to be filled up without delay,” said the ministry, adding that it was the President who appointed Shah.

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