Tuesday, April 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ahluwalia sacked as VC
N.S. Rattan takes over
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
The Punjab Government has removed Dr J.S. Ahluwalia as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala. In his place Mr N.S. Rattan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, has been asked to officiate.

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia today said on the phone that he would take recourse to all legal remedies against his removal as Vice-Chancellor.

The official residence of the ousted Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, was sealed this evening. Policemen descended on the residence of Dr Ahluwalia. After locking the main gate leading to the house, a seal was affixed on the lock.

This was announced by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a press conference here today. He also said that a team of the Vigilance Bureau had been posted on the campus to probe various happenings during Dr Ahluwalia’s tenure.

In fact, the Chancellor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), had issued an order removing Dr Ahluwalia yesterday. His strongly worded order makes a telling comment on the functioning of Dr Ahluwalia against whom staff members and students had been demonstrating for a long time seeking his removal.

The proverbial last straw came when the police presented a charge sheet against Dr Ahluwalia in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Sanjiv Beri, at Patiala on April 19. Dr Ahluwalia is facing two cases, one relating to attempt to murder and the other attempt to rape and outrage the modesty of a student. In the second case, the charge sheet was filed under Section 173 Cr PC.

The Governor, who is the Chancellor, in his two-page order even dispensed with the procedure of inquiry in view of the urgency of the situation.

Inter alia, the order reads: “Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia was appointed Vice-Chancellor on May 13, 1999, for a period of three years.... As Vice-Chancellor he was expected to be the trustee of moral ethics and academic excellence and to create an atmosphere conducive for social, moral and academic development of the student community.... He was to be the keeper of the university’s conscience by setting the highest standards and dealing promptly and firmly with indiscipline and malpractices of any kind... A situation, however, has risen in the university where Dr Ahluwalia’s conduct as Vice-Chancellor has come under a cloud leading to registration of criminal cases against him...In view of the above situation, I am of the considered opinion that immediate action is required to prevent further deterioration of the atmospohere of the university...”

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the government was not in a hurry to appoint a regular Vice-Chancellor and the selection process had been initiated to find the most competent person.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Mr Rattan, who joined at Patiala in the morning, has already held a meeing with the deans and heads of departments and convened a meeting of the university Syndicate.

There had been tremendous pressure on the government to remove Dr Ahluwalia, but it continued to delay and dither. The Chief Minister had repeatedly sought to explain the government’s inaction in removing Dr Ahluwalia by citing autonomous laws that protected the incumbent.

Mr Rattan took over as the Acting VC amidst jubilation with members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), Patiala, which had been agitating for Dr Ahluwalia’s ouster, rejoicing at the turn of events. Mr Rattan addressed members of the JAC promising that no victimisation would be done against any group of teachers.

Mr Rattan announced that all orders issued by Dr Ahluwalia from December 1 till date would be reviewed and those found to be illegal cancelled. He announced that a meeting of the Syndicate would be held tomorrow.


Ahluwalia’s computer seized
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 22
The Vigilance Department today seized the personal computer and several documents from the official residence of the ousted Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia today.

Officials of the Vigilance Department struck in the afternoon today after Education Secretary N.S. Rattan took over as Active Vice-Chancellor of the university and took charge of the office. Local police force, which was accompanying them helped in loading the personal computer of Dr Ahluwalia as well as some floppies and documents seized from his residence.

The Vigilance Department officials also raided the office of the varsity Registrar as well as the administrative block. Sources said several documents had been taken into custody at the two places. However, Patiala Vigilance Superintendent of Police Paramjit Singh Grewal refused to confirm the raid or the seizure saying he had no knowledge of it.

According to the sources Dr Ahluwalia, who used to stay alone at his official residence on the campus, has been away since yesterday. The sources said the residence of the VC could have been sealed because he was using it as his office with the joint action committee, which had led the agitation for his removal, not allowing him to function from the office on the campus after he returned to the university following grant of bail in a criminal case registered against him.

The sources said it was feared that Dr Ahluwalia could tamper with official documents laying at his residence in case it was not sealed. The JAC had also expressed similar apprehensions.


VC’s removal: why did govt dither for so long?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Why did the Punjab Government dither for so long on the removal of Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University? This question has assumed significance for various reasons.

Earlier the government had said that it did not want to issue an ordinance to amend the Punjabi University Act pertaining to the appointment and tenure of the Vice-Chancellor as such a step would impair the autonomy of the university.

But now the government has removed him even without making amendments to the Act. In fact, there was no need to amend the Act, The government was vested with powers to remove him. All this was brought to the notice of the government by legal experts. The Tribune also did a story on March 18 in which certain relevant sections of the Punjab General Clauses Act, 1897, were quoted showing that the appointing authority had inherent powers to remove the appointee. In this case, the Chancellor of the university was the appointing authority and he had the powers to remove the Vice-Chancellor.

And now the Chancellor has used the same Punjab General Clauses Act to remove Dr Ahluwalia. It is said that there were a number of senior IAS officers in the Punjab Government who did not want the removal of Dr Ahluwalia. They did not properly guide the political executive and the Chancellor on the available legal provisions for Dr Ahluwalia’s removal. However, when the heat of agitation began to be felt at the office of the Chancellor here, he immediately acted to remove Dr Ahluwalia. On April 20, a large number of teachers from Punjabi University, Panjab University and elsewhere held a demonstration and a dharna against the Chancellor. They levelled various allegations, including protection being given to Dr Ahluwalia by a section of the bureaucracy.

If the government had not dilly-dallied on this issue for so long and acted in March against Dr Ahluwalia, a large section of the students, teachers and others concerned would have been saved from resorting to agitation. Order would have been restored much earlier at the university.Back

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