Published On:12 April 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Government's adventure brings AMU to crossroads

By Ehtasham Khan

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is facing a situation which it has never faced before. For the first time, it has no chancellor, no vice-chancellor (VC), no pro-vice-chancellor (PVC) and no treasurer. The university has, thus, been left to the mercy of a headless executive council (EC) which currently has 16 members.

The situation has led to so much chaos that several important decisions have come to a standstill. In the run up to the appointment of a new vice-chancellor, there are reports of large-scale horse trading in and outside the AMU campus.

Traditionally, the government has never intervened in the day-to-day functioning of any university, and especially in AMU, owing to the rights of minority institution's "Right to Administer" guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

However, recently, we saw an astonishing situation where the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) pushed the registrar of the university to file a petition in the Supreme Court against its own vice-chancellor, there by flouting all Acts, Statutes and traditions. The attorney general -- who is the top most law officer of the government and appears in a selected number of important cases -- argued on behalf of the registrar.

Former pro-vice-chancellor of AMU, Professor HAS Jafri wrote on a social networking site of the AMU alumni: "There were times not in very distant past when even the Prime Minster not to talk of any of the government departments could interfere in the University affairs."

"And the present scenario is that an under secretary of the government of India calls the registrar of the university and directs him to file SLP in the Supreme Court against his own vice-chancellor and the directive is faithfully carried out. And the outcome is before every one where another most dangerous precedent, in the name of compliance of the SC order, is being established."

The story begins when the ministry of human resources development asked the then acting vice-chancellor Professor Sibgatullah to appoint an IAS officer Noor Mohammad as the pro-vice-chancellor (PVC). The appointment was made on the day Prof. Sibgatullah was to demit his office. The next day when Prof. Sibgatullah left his office, Noor Mohammad, being the PVC, automatically became the vice-chancellor as per AMU Act 1922. The senior most dean of the university Prof Qazi Afzal Hussain challenged this appointment in the Allahabad high court. The high court quashed Noor Mohammad's appointment calling it against AMU's Act and Statutes. The court also allowed the appointment of Hussain as the next acting VC as per the law. He was supposed to initiate the process of appointment of a permanent VC.

The HRD ministry could not take this "defeat" as it wanted its "own" man at the helm of AMU affairs. The ministry did something which has never happened in AMU. The officials of the ministry in New Delhi summoned the registrar of the university. They asked him to file an SLP in the Supreme Court against the high court order. The decision was strange in the sense that a registrar is an official who works under the vice-chancellor. He acts by taking permission from the VC or the EC. But, here, he filed a petition against his own VC, that too without taking the required permission.

However, the apex court entertained the SLP. The Supreme Court decided that there will be no acting vice-chancellor in AMU. The apex court empowered the EC to carry out day-to-day functioning, and initiate the process for the appointment of a permanent VC. The court order said, "We hope a permanent vice-chancellor will be appointed by the end of April."

The order has led to a complete policy paralysis in the university at the crucial time of admissions and exams. In the absence of any authority, the university has fallen prey to several self-seekers. As per the order of Supreme Court, the university - without any authority in place -- has started the process of selection of a new permanent vice-chancellor. The situation has exposed AMU to dirty politics and hectic lobbying for the top chair.

There is a three-tier system of the appointment of the vice-chancellor in AMU. This is unlike other universities which have a search committee. In AMU, the executive council prepares a panel of five names. These names are selected without any transparency. Nobody knows who will be in the panel and what their credentials are.

In the selection of the previous VC, there was no biodata of the candidates before the EC. They empanelled one Prof PK AbdulAziz who became the vice-chancellor. It was later revealed that there were several cases of corruption and plagiarism against Prof Aziz during his stint at Cochin University. Carrying on with his legacy, Prof Aziz term in AMU was also full of allegations of corruption. He was indicted by the CAG and also by a fact finding committee of retired high court judges. A CBI inquiry is pending against him.

This time too, hectic lobbying has started between several contenders for the post. Though, there is a UGC directive to give preference to an academic for the post of VC, several individuals from second ranking bureaucracy like India Revenue Services and Indian Information Services are in the fray. This is against the traditions of AMU which has vice-chancellors like former President of India Zakir Hussain, and more recently, the current vice-president Hamid Ansari.

The EC after preparing a panel recommends five names to the AMU court. The AMU court comprises nearly 200 members including representatives of students, teachers, staff, alumni, prominent parliamentarians and nominees of the visitor.

This is where the dirty game starts. It is alleged that both money and muscle power are used when voting takes place in the AMU court to elect three names out of the panel of five names recommended by the EC. The three names are then sent to the Visitor who appoints one of them as the VC.

There are reports that several lobbies are active on the AMU campus to lure voters with exorbitant sums of money.

Unfortunately, the government which has been very active in AMU for the past five years maintains in public that it does not intervene in the university affairs.

With the EC slated to meet on April 12 and the voting in AMU court scheduled for April 15, there is a demand for transparency in the selection of the vice-chancellor. At least the EC while selecting or rejecting a particular candidate should make the reasons public. The people have the right to know the credentials of the candidates who are being considered.

The appointment of the next vice-chancellor is crucial because of the last five years being topsy-turvy. The fate of thousands of students is now confined to the decision of a handful of people.

[The author is a journalist with a TV channel in New Delhi and alumnus of AMU.]

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 12, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 12, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

1 comments for "Government's adventure brings AMU to crossroads"

  1. Anyhow lets hope and pray that AMU gets a VC very soon. Lets pray hard that Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah takes over the university, since he is the best bet among the 5 names with maximum no. of votes and it will be great service to AMU, if Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah takes over as VC - AMU.

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