Many see red as PU replaces five Senators without notice

CHANDIGARH: Two days before the Senate meeting, which is slated for August 22, a large section of Panjab University (PU) is “seething” over the removal of five fellows of the governing body, the approval for which has been given by the Vice-President of India, who is also the PU Chancellor.

Many see red as PU replaces five Senators without notice

Rajinder Bhandari, former vice-chairman, Punjab planning board

laxmi@tribune.com

Amarjot Kaur 

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19

Two days before the Senate meeting, which is slated for August 22, a large section of Panjab University (PU) is “seething” over the removal of five fellows of the governing body, the approval for which has been given by the Vice-President of India, who is also the PU Chancellor. 

The resentment of PU’s former and existing Senators comes in view of the PU’s decision to remove the fellows without prior intimation, “against the principles of natural justice and that too a year before the next Senate term that will begin on November 1, 2020, after the Senate elections.”

Addressed to VC Prof Raj Kumar, a letter from the Vice-President’s Secretariat, dated August 17, states: “Please refer to PU’s letter dated February 11, 2019, and March 11, 2019, regarding the removal of six ordinary fellows of Panjab University and nomination of five new members in their place.” It further states that the Chancellor of Panjab University has approved the nominations of ordinary fellows under Section 13 (1) (j) of Panjab University Act, 1947, in place of fellows whose office has been declared vacated under Section 17 (2) of Panjab University Act VII of 1947. As per the directions of the letter, the list of new nominees will soon be published in Part-II Section 3 and sub-section (ii) of “The Gazette of India”. 

The letter lists the names of five nominated Senators among which are BJP ministers — Somprakash Kainth, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, and Rajinder Bhandari, former vice-chairman of the Punjab planning board. Other nominated fellows are Anilesh Mahajan, senior editor of a national magazine, Prof Raj Kumar Bhatia, senior vice-president of the Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Parishad and Amita Rishi, former member of the Punjab Public Service Commission. The said people have been nominated as PU fellows “with effect from August 17, 2019, to October 31, 2020,” reads the notification to be published in “The Gazette of India”.

How the Senate functions

The PU Senate comprises 49 elected members, 36 members nominated by the PU VC,  six ex-officio members, including Punjab CM, Punjab education minister, chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, adviser to the UT Administrator, DPI Colleges of Punjab and DHE, Chandigarh.

Together, the elected 49 and nominated 36 members are the “ordinary fellows”. The members of the Senate are elected every four years. The last Senate was formed on November 1, 2016. 

The Section 17 (2) of the Panjab University Act VII of 1947 states that where an ordinary fellow has not attended the meeting of the Senate, other than the convocation, during one year, the Chancellor may declare his office to be vacated. In view of the said section, former PU Prof RD Anand and now a practising advocate says: “I have read reports that claimed that people who have been removed from the Senate haven’t even been issued a notice, which is totally against the principles of natural justice. One cannot be condemned without being heard. Names of eminent scientists, like DVS Jain and Deepak Paintal, have sprung up on the PU’s firing list, one hears. Dr Jain has been battling cancer.”

President of DAV Colleges Managing Committee Poonam Suri, Justice Harbans Lal and Dr SC Sharma of AIMS are among those removed from the Senate. 

Principal Tarsem Bahia, who was a Senator from 1976 to 2008, said: “It would have been better had the Punjab Government been taken on board before finalising the nominations as Punjab contributes 40 per cent to PU’s funding.”

While PU VC Prof Raj did not comment on the matter, PU Registrar Prof Karamjit Singh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

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