Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Central Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education, to consider the issue of conversion of Panjab University into a Central university.
“Let the decision taken by the Central Government, at least in principle, be placed before the court on the next date of hearing,” Justice Rajbir Sehrawat of the High Court asserted, while fixing the matter for further consideration on August 30. The direction came on a petition against the state of Punjab and other respondents by Dr Sangita Bhalla through counsel Sameer Sachdeva. The Centre was represented by Arun Gosain. Justice Sehrawat asserted that the case had presented “a very strange situation”. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, had issued a notification, dated March 29, applying the Central Civil Service Rules to employees of the UT Administration, including teachers in government colleges and institutions of higher education functioning within the UT.
However, the “applicability clause” of the notification showed that it did not cover the teachers working in either aided private colleges or working in affiliating Panjab University, Chandigarh. As a result, lecturers working in government colleges and government institutes of higher education in Chandigarh would be retiring at 65. However, professors/lecturers working in the teaching departments of the university and the affiliated colleges, would be retiring at 60 as per their existing rules.
Justice Rajbir Sehrawat added that the ostensible reason given for the dichotomy was that Panjab University was stated to be an inter-state body corporate. As such, the university and its private affiliated colleges were being dealt with separately under the law governing the university.
Justice Sehrawat added that the university, as of today, stood as exclusively controlled, regulated and governed by the Central Government. Its character as an inter-state body already stood extinguished. Mere participation of Chandigarh would not make it an inter-state body as the UT Administration was only the instrumentality of the Central Government.
“Even the issue of affiliation of colleges to the university is to be decided by the Central Government as per Section 27 of the Panjab University Act. Hence, in essence, Panjab University has already acquired all attributes of a Central university. However, it is having such a primitive executive and administrative structure, which probably no other university is having and which permits even outsiders to be deans of faculties, besides creating a constant slugfest of academic politics and electoral disputes,” the Bench asserted.
Justice Sehrawat added that the same deserved to be rectified to ensure a congenial academic environment, which was a precondition for ensuring excellence in academics and research. Moreover, the grievance of teachers working in the university and its affiliated colleges deserved to be addressed too.
“Therefore, to remove all ambiguities and to clear the confusion prevalent in all spheres relating to the affairs of the university, the Central Government is directed to consider formal conversion of Panjab University, Chandigarh, into a Central university…,” Justice Sehrawat added.
What the court said
“Let the decision taken by the Central Government, at least in principle, be placed before the court on the next date of hearing,” Justice Rajbir Sehrawat of the High Court asserted, while fixing the matter for further consideration on August 30
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