The Delhi High Court on Friday sought Jawaharlal Nehru University’s response on a plea challenging the varsity’s decision to change selection criteria for vacant teaching positions in its Centre for Historical Studies (CHS) after the posts were advertised. While issuing notice to JNU seeking its stand on the petition, Justice A K Chawla directed the varsity not to fill the advertised vacancies till the next date of hearing on May 6.
The plea was moved by two professors of CHS, Sucheta Mahajan and Mahalakshmi Ramakrishnan, who contended that the varsity “illegally and unilaterally altered the selection criteria for the posts of assistant professor in CHS during the selection process”. The petitioners said that the varsity, represented by central government standing counsel Monika Arora and advocate Harsh Ahuja, also shortlisted candidates for the posts based on the new criteria.
The petition sought quashing of the list of candidates shortlisted on the basis of the new “diluted criteria” and the interviews conducted thereafter. It contended that JNU, after advertising the posts along with the requisite qualifications, decided to “dilute” the criteria during the selection process by asking the screening committee to remove the need for specialisations.
The petition has claimed that by removing the requirement of specialisation, the varsity has rendered the posts as “open posts” for which someone with a Master’s degree can also apply. It said that interviews of the illegally shortlisted candidates were carried out on February 11-12, but no appointments have been made.
“It is submitted that the respondents (JNU, its recruitment cell and internal quality assessment cell) have acted in total contravention of the JNU Act, statutes, ordinances and UGC regulations on minimum qualification for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges,” the petition claimed. It also alleged that “in addition to illegality committed by the respondents, it is also pertinent to mention that the removal of the specialisation requirement in the criteria results in the dilution of academic, teaching and research standards within the centre”.
According to the petition, in the advertisement, the selection criteria contained an additional requirement of a PhD in the specialisation concerned, which was done away with subsequently after selection process had commenced. The petition contended that the vacant posts were advertised with specific specialisations as certain faculty members from those specialisations had retired.
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