HC for PU Senate poll

Beleaguered Punjabi varsity needs fiscal stimulus

HC for PU Senate poll

Casting aside the Panjab University Vice-Chancellor’s decision to indefinitely defer the Senate elections, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has, in a welcome directive, paved the way for the restoration of democratic functioning of the university, as mandated by the Panjab University Act, 1947. Rapping the VC for usurping the powers of the apex governing body through his action, the HC order seeks an immediate end to the current ‘autocratic…one-man show’. Significantly, the verdict also lays to rest the apprehension that governance reforms are being pushed without deliberations by a duly elected Senate. The National Education Policy-2020 has proposed that the Senate be replaced by a board of governors.

One of the oldest and most prestigious universities of the country that enjoys international fame, the functioning of the Chandigarh-based PU has come under a cloud as it has remained without its supreme authority — the Senate — since October 31, 2020, when the previous body’s four-year term expired. The term of the Syndicate — PU’s executive body comprising members elected from among the Senators — ended on December 31. The excuse of the pandemic does not hold water, given that there has been no disruption in the schedule of various Assembly polls. However, the Covid norms must be followed during the poll process. The PU Senate constituencies are spread over Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Incidentally, 2020 has also seen Punjabi University, Patiala, teeter on the precipice. Facing an acute financial slump, it is swamped by a plethora of problems. While the beleaguered VC resigned in November, the staff has been deprived of regular salaries for several months and research work has been impacted. The officiating VC appointed by the Punjab Government is struggling to resolve the deadlock with the faculty. Senior functionaries have quit various posts in the past few days over pending promotions. This bleak scenario was evident on March 30 when the Syndicate meeting to discuss the budget was postponed again. Even as a fiscal stimulus by the government is essential to keep the rocky boat afloat, the university also needs to inspect why things have come to such a pass.

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