In the emergent meeting of the syndicate held at Panjab University (PU) on Saturday morning, the members of the governing body decided that the formulation and imposition of a model code of conduct for the upcoming senate election is an unviable option, since amendments to the PU calendar cannot be made at such short notice.
The members of the syndicate allegedly also concurred that the length of the electoral process of the senate elections is too long to feasibly impose a model code of conduct. “The process of these elections will continue from now till September when the final elections will be conducted. It will be difficult to impose a code of conduct for a period of eight months,” claims Professor Navdeep Goyal, chairperson of the physics department and syndicate member.
The meeting was convened by Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar following a letter forwarded to him from the Chancellor of the university, asking the governing bodies of the varsity to deliberate the formation of a code of conduct and submit their recommendations and observations to “this secretariat for appropriate action”.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Chancellor, forwarded this letter to the V-C in response to another letter written by one Professor Tarun Ghai, who had asked the Chancellor to consider imposing a model code of conduct for PU senate elections to curtail misconduct such as using one’s influence to garner votes while on “flying squad duties, inspection committees or as selection panel members” at other colleges and universities.
In response to the syndicate’s decision on the matter, Prof Ghai claims: “If 104 amendments can be made in the Constitution of India, why can’t amendments be made to the the calendar and service rules of a Public University?”
“How does the length of the election matter? All flying squad duties can be performed in the same way, but just don’t let people who are contesting the elections go on these duties. There are many more teachers and faculty members who won’t be contesting and can be sent to perform such duties,” adds the professor. Another syndicate member, on condition of anonymity, claimed that choosing members of selection committees and flying squads is the discretion of the V-C.
“The V-C chooses these committee members and surely we can trust his decisions to be well informed and moral” says the syndicate member.
Dr Harpreet Singh Dua, another member of the syndicate and associate professor from Gujranwala Guru Nanak College Ludhiana, said, “We are not contesting elections for some gain, It is all for academic development. So why would we be involved in such malpractices in order to garner votes,” asks Dua.
“Some questions have been raised saying that is an academic council so an academic governing body should not have a code of conduct, but if the whole process is that of a democratic election, stretched to a period of eight months, then it has to be a political process too. Each democratic election should be governed by a code of conduct,” claims Ghai.
The professor adds that student body elections are done in an academic setting, but are still governed by the Lyngdoh committee recommendations, which state that a code of conduct should be placed during the election period of a student council at colleges and universities in India. “The same should apply to the senate as well,” says Ghai.
“Changing the rules of the PU calendar will include screening those amendments through the syndicate and senate and sending the approved recommendations to the home ministry. We tried to go through a similar process before when I added “Governance reforms at PU” as a syndicate agenda in 2018, but nothing came out of it as well,” claims Prof Arun Grover, ex V-C of PU.
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