Two days after a major protest started at Pondicherry Central University against the transfer of the registrar by the vice-chancellor (V-C), a joint action council comprising over 1,000 students, professors and non-teaching staff threatened to go on an indefinite strike from November 11. The council, which is demanding the removal of V-C Chandra Krishnamurthy, also plans to boycott the semester exams, scheduled to begin from the third week of November.
“It is high time for the Human Resource Development Ministry to remove this V-C, whose eligibility has been proved wrong. If the ministry continues to ignore the plight of the academic system and the violations in recruitment, we will be forced to go ahead with the strike,” said Dastagiri Reddy, a senior faculty and secretary of the Pondicherry University Teachers Association.
Calling it a political appointment, Reddy alleged that former HRD minister Pallam Raju overruled the Visitor, the President of India, in the selection of Krishnamurthy by nominating her name instead of submitting a list of three candidates.
“She has never served as a professor. The UGC insists on 10 years’ experience as a professor and publications in reputed journals for V-C candidates,” he said. The Pondicherry University Act, 1985 says that the V-C shall be appointed by the Visitor from a panel of not less than three persons.
But an internal report submitted before HRD secretary Ashok Thakur last month, which has been accessed by The Indian Express, shows that Juglal Singh, an under secretary in the ministry, allegedly flouted rules in the V-C selection in November 2012. During the selection, he noted in the file that the HRD minister may consider and recommend suitable name to the President for the appointment of the university’s V-C. Subsequently, Raju wrote on the file on December 10, 2012 that “Prof (Mrs.) Chandra Krishnamurthy may be appointed as the V-C”.
A petition sent by the academics also rued that Krishnamurthy did not meet the UGC criteria to become V-C. “She ordered subordinates to keep files about her profile confidential and to deny information regarding RTI queries. Whoever opposed such moves was either transferred or victimised,” claimed a senior university official.
When contacted, registrar Raajiv Yaduvanshi, whose repatriation order by the V-C had sparked the protests, said that Krishnamurthy had used her official position to get her files marked as “Protected Personal Information” by the Public Information Officer to deny RTI queries. “The misuse of power had been reported to the HRD Ministry,” he said.
M Ramadass, former pro-V-C and a retired professor who moved Madras High Court challenging the V-C’s appointment, said the HRD Ministry is yet to address the issue.