A day after the Panjab and Haryana High Court in a scathing order asked the Panjab University to restore the position of Professor Emanual Nahar as Dean Students Welfare, the varsity authorities on Wednesday made a mention for an urgent hearing of its appeal against the decision passed by the single bench, which also asked it to hold a Senate meeting within seven days for a vote over Syndicate’s recommendation regarding Nahar’s extension. However, the officials and its counsel failed to prepare the appeal copy in time and reached the Registry too late for the appeal to be heard on Wednesday itself.
On Wednesday morning, the counsel representing the university made a mention before the first division bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari. While the mention for fixing the case for hearing on Wednesday itself was allowed, Justice Murari is also said to have expressed displeasure at the developments pertaining to the matter and made clear that he will not hear the case. Justice Murari is also an ex-officio member of the PU Senate.
While the case was to be listed before a division bench — other than that of the Chief Justice — the appeal did not reach the Registry even till 3 pm and the counsel were asked to come back on Thursday morning. While many officers of the university were busy at the UT senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain’s office in preparation of the appeal, the counsel representing Nahar and senators like Professor Keshav Malhotra too were seen around the court till late in the evening to attend any possible hearing of the matter.
The university had removed Professor Nahar and Professor Neena Caplash from their position of DSWs on August 22 while citing the purported Senate decision. Nahar and at least four senators approached the High Court submitting that the majority of the members were in favour of the extension but Kumar closed the proceedings of Senate in haste and called for playing the national anthem, “with the objective of defeating the demand of voting”. The Senate “resolution” cited and produced later before court by the university was called into question. In an order released on Tuesday, Justice Arun Monga stayed the decision on removal of the DSWs and restored Nahar’s position while also calling for a Senate meet.
Appeal likely to come up for hearing today
A day before the student elections at Panjab University, the appeal is likely to be mentioned for an urgent hearing once again on Thursday. In the appeal, officials said, the university authorities are likely to argue that the Vice-Chancellor is the principal executive and academic officer of the university, and his and the Syndicate’s recommendations are a pre-requisite requirement for the appointment of the DSW as “the Vice Chancellor and the Syndicate are at equal footing”. Rejecting the contention that the Syndicate and Senate cannot disregard the Vice-Chancellor’s recommendation, the single bench had said the Syndicate — constituted by 15 members of which “Vice Chancellor is just one vote” — recommended Nahar’s continuation by 14 votes in his favour.
The university is also set to argue that Nahar had an alternative remedy of approaching the Chancellor and contend that the Registrar and Vice- Chancellor had approved the resolution regarding the denial of extension to Nahar. Regarding the unprepared minutes of the August 22 Senate meeting, the PU is set to argue that the “established practice” is minutes are prepared after passing of the resolution.
Nahar’s position as general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee is also set to come under scanner as the authorities, officials said, will argue that the DSW’s position as the ex-officio electoral officer of the student elections “would mar the fair and free elections of the student body”. The argument regarding Nahar’s political connection had also been raised before the single bench on Monday with the other side rebutting it saying that “his removal from the post has political motivations and the allegation substantiates it”. Nahar has been on the post of DSW since 2016.