High Court orders show-cause contempt notice to Panjab University Vice-Chancellor, Registrar

Cites wilful disobedience of order on framing promotion policy for dental hospital faculty

High Court orders show-cause contempt notice to Panjab University Vice-Chancellor, Registrar

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17

In an out-of-the ordinary case of institutional censure, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has suo motu directed the issuance of a show-cause contempt notice to the Panjab University Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar for wilful disobedience of its order on framing a promotion policy for the faculty of Dr Harvansh Singh Judge Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital.

Rapping the university for “leaving much to be desired”, Justice Arun Monga asserted: “I am, prima facie, of the view that conduct, callousness and seemingly nonchalant approach of the applicant deserves denunciation. Once an order or direction attains finality, it must be complied with dignity and in entirety in letter and spirit, no matter, how unhappy its sufferer is”.

Justice Monga added the court was of the preliminary view that the university officials were, prima facie, liable to show cause why proceedings under Article 215 of the Constitution, read with Sections 11 and12 of the Contempt of Court Act, be not initiated for willful disobedience of its order dated May 30, 2019.

Directing the High Court Registry to issue the show-cause notice to the Vice-Chancellor, Justice Monga observed that he was the executive head and overall in-charge of the affairs, besides being the chairman of the Syndicate and Senate — the apex decision-making bodies of the university.

The rap and the notice came after the university repeatedly sought an extension to implement the High Court’s May 2019 orders in Mili Bansal nee Gupta’s case, even though it was granted four months for the purpose. Justice Monga asserted that it was reflective of the contumacious attitude of the university.

Referring to the initial time-extension plea “to overcome the discrepancies in the existing policy and give shape,” Justice Monga questioned: “Why would one need six to eight months for it...?”

Justice Monga added that extension was again sought on the “phony ground of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic”. “And, what precluded the applicant from overcoming the discrepancies in the ‘existing’ policy prior to the lockdown date.... It was declared on March 23, which is a much later event. It seems to be a mere ruse and cannot be permitted.”

Justice Monga asserted that the filing of applications after the expiry of time period was to dodge the resultant contempt proceedings arising out of non-compliance. Holding the university under moral and legal obligation to finalise the existing promotion policy, Justice Monga asserted that it, perhaps, took the court for granted.

Before parting, Justice Monga asserted that Panjab University was one of the country’s top league premier education institutions, where upcoming talent was polished. It was required to be a role model not only for the students, but the faculty as well, so they could flourish with zeal and enthusiasm.

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