Chandigarh, December 8
A person duly qualified in law is required to be the principal/head of a centre of legal education, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled, while setting aside an order appointing Prof Sarabjit Kaur as Director of the University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS).
Not just an honorary post
- Justice Harsh Bunger tells Panjab University and UILS to comply with 2008 Rules and 2018 UGC Regulations
- As per rules, candidate must possess PhD degree in law with at least 15 years of teaching experience
- Bench asserts rules clearly indicate the director, being head of institute, not a mere honorary post
“The order is unsustainable in the eyes of law and the same is accordingly set aside,” Justice Harsh Bunger asserted, while making it clear that Panjab University and respondent UILS were expected to comply with the requirement set down by the Bar Council of India in 2008 Rules and 2018 UGC Regulations on the appointment of principal/head of a centre of legal education.
The rules specify that a candidate is required to possess PhD degree in law with at least 15 years of teaching experience in the subject concerned.
Taking up the petition filed by a law professor, Shruti Bedi, through senior advocate DS Patwalia with counsel Kannan Malik, Justice Bunger observed the provisions pertaining to “rotation of headship-teaching departments” were applicable to all departments of Panjab University. But it would be necessary for the proposed incumbent to also satisfy the requirements of the UGC rules regarding its applicability to the UILS. Justice Bunger also didn’t find substance in the submission/stand of the university and other respondents that the UILS director was only an honorary designation.
Referring to the rules of headship, the Bench asserted its bare perusal would clearly indicate that the director, being the head of the institute, was not a mere honorary designation. He/she was required to perform various functions and to exercise powers aimed at providing academic leadership to the department, to coordinate teaching, research and administrative work of the department and to exercise financial powers etc.
“Considering the totality of circumstances, in the instant case, the principal/head of respondent-institute, referred to as ‘director’, has to be a person, who has minimum prescribed qualification in law as prescribed by the UGC, as envisaged under 2008 Rules… Concededly, such qualification is not there with respondent-director and for that matter also with two other respondents,” Justice Bunger added.
Justice Bunger directed the varsity and other respondents to initiate and complete the process of appointing the institute’s director/head, in compliance with norms of affiliation and keeping in view the court observations. For the purpose, Justice Bunger set a six-week deadline.
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