Published: 03rd November 2021
JNU VC appointed 9 chairpersons without authority: Delhi HC tells JNU they can stay but can't take major decisions
The bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh said that the VC is "not vested with the power to appoint Chairpersons"
The Delhi High Court, in an interim order, pulled up the Vice-Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, for appointing nine chairpersons without authority. While the court did not nullify their appointments, the chairpersons have been asked not to take any "major decisions". Only the varsity's Executive Council can make these appointments unless there's an emergency.
The bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh said that on the face of it, the court is of the view that the Vice-Chancellor is "not vested with the power to appoint Chairpersons of Centres/Special Centres". The bench rejected the university's argument that the VC's actions were legal under Statue 4(5) of the university which states that the VC can make such appointments on his own in "emergent situations. The court said that Dr Atul Sood, the appellant, had alerted the Executive Council before the 296th meeting of the appointments made by the VC. So the authorities were aware that such an action was being taken by the VC. “Despite this, respondent no.2 (VC), it appears, went on to appoint the Chairpersons of the concerned Centres/Special Centres,” said the court in its order.
They further said that the Statute gives the power of appointment to the Executive Council. "Thus, clearly the appointment of Chairpersons of Centres/Special Centres by respondent no 2 (VC) is, as is evident at this stage, prima facie, without authority," said the court. But they also observed that they are "cognizant of the fact that, the Centres/Special Centres need Chairpersons for effective functioning".
The Chairpersons will still be in place but they will not be able to take any "major decisions, including functions relating to the convening of selection committees and/or carrying out the selection(s), concerning the Centres/special centres". The decision on that will be finalised when a single judge bench hears a writ petition. "The views expressed by us are only prima facie, and therefore, the learned single judge will decide the writ petition on merits, after hearing both sides," clarified the judges as they concluded the online hearing.
The JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) said that the VC has, over and over again, shown "complete disrespect for university processes" to implement his "personal agenda" rather than what is in the interest of the university. "The silence maintained by the Ministry of Education with respect to the illegalities committed by him too needs to be questioned. By not taking action against this errant Vice-Chancellor they have virtually allowed him to have a free reign at the cost of the university. The repeated violations have been a huge drain on the university finance as it is the university funds that are being used to pay his legal team to defend his malafide actions," said the JNUTA.
Neither the university nor the VC were available for comments.