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CENTRAL STATUS FOR PU
Centre likely to file review petition in HC
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, May 17
The Centre is considering filing a review petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had, in March this year, ruled that Panjab University, Chandigarh, is neither a Central University nor a centrally-funded varsity.

Top sources in the government today told The Tribune that the high court had, in its order, relied on an old affidavit where the government had admitted that PU was not a central or a centrally-funded institution. For the status of PU to change, the government would first have to revisit its old position; hence the consideration of a review petition, top sources in the Ministry of Human Resource Development said.

The move follows Attorney General of Indiaís advice to the government to go in for a review petition in the high court that had dismissed a bunch of petitions involving a common question on the revision of retirement age of PU teachers from 60 to 65 years, as applicable to the faculty of other Central Educational Institutions (CEIs).

The developments are in line with those in October last when, following the intervention of the Prime Ministerís Office on the matter of central funding of the cash-strapped PU, the Law Ministry had accepted the Central Educational Institute status for PU under the CEI Act, 2006, allowing the government to fund it fully besides mandating 27 per cent OBC quota implementation and raising the faculty retirement age from 60 to 65, as applicable to CEIs.

The Law Ministryís acceptance of PUís central status at that time was also based on the opinion of the Attorney General who argued that the university could be considered a CEI as it was in any case substantially funded by the Centre through the Home Ministry.

Currently, 60 per cent of PUís annual budget comes from the Centre while the remaining is mandated to come from the Punjab Government, which has been paying just 10 per cent annually. The laxity has put PU under heavy financial burden. Its annual deficit is currently pegged at Rs 45 crore.

AG Ghoolam Vahanvati, in line with his earlier opinion, has recommended to the Centre the filing of review petition in the HC to enable the government to state its position on PU.

The matter will have tremendous implications for PU staff that have been awaiting clarity on the varsityís status. Once the Centre, through a review petition, makes its position clear, things are expected to fall into place for PU. 

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