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Delhi Hc Quashes Appointment Of Jamia Pro Vice Chancellor

Raya Banerjee ,
  29 May 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Delhi
Brief :

Citation :
W. P. (C) 15161 of 2023 W. P. (C) 16421 of 2023 CONT. CAS(C) 4 of 2024

CASE TITLE:  

Md. Shami Ahmad Ansari & Anr. Vs. Jamia Millia Islamia & Ors.

DATE OF ORDER:

May 22, 2024

BENCH:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tushar Rao Gedela

PARTIES:

Petitioners: Md. Shami Ahmad Ansari & Mohd Anwar Khan

Respondent: Jamia Millia Islamia & Eqbal Hussain 

SUBJECT: 

The case concerned respondent no. 2’s appointment to Jamia Millia Islamia University as Pro Vice Chancellor (PVC) and thereafter Officiating Vice Chancellor (VC). The main concern was whether these appointments complied with the UGC regulations of 2018 and the university’s statutes, regulations, and the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988:

  • Statute 4(1): It deals with appointment process for PVC 
  • Statutes 2(6): It deals with succession protocol for the office of VC 
  • Statute 4(2): It deals with the term of office of PVC 
  • Statute 2(4): It deals with mandatory retirement age of VC 
  • Section 11(3): It pertains to the powers and duties of the Chancellor.
  • Section 11(1): It deals with the appointment process and powers of the Vice Chancellor.
  • Section 8: It addresses the constitution and powers of the Executive Council, the university’s governing body.

OVERVIEW:

  • A disagreement concerning respondent no. 2’s appointment to Jamia Millia Islamia University as PVC  and thereafter Officiating VC. 
  • As per the university statutes, the original appointment was made by the VC at the time.
  • Orders concerning the respondent’s function as the Officiating VC in the VC ‘s absence were subsequently issued.
  • A notification was sent to the Ministry of Education about the transfer of respondent no. 2’s VC responsibilities following of Officiating VC was formally transferred to respondent no. 2 through an office order.
  • The petitioner requested a writ of quo warranto from the court in order to contest the appointments on the grounds that they were made in contravention of laws, ordinances, and UGC regulations.

ISSUE RAISED:

What was the central issue raised regarding the appointment of respondent no. 2 as PVC and subsequent officiating VC, and how was it addressed by the court’s judgement?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER:

  • It was argued that because there was no immediate crisis, the appointment of respondent no. 2 as PVC, allegedly in accordance with Section 11(3) of the JMI Act violated statute 2(6).
  • The petitioner argued that the proviso to clause (6) of statute 2, which required the appointment of the Senior Most Professor as PVC, was ignored in respondent no. 2’s appointment.
  • The petitioner claimed that the Executive Council (EC) had to give its consent before the VC could use its emergent powers, but this consent was not given.
  • Moreover, it was contended that the continuation of respondent no. 2 was illegal since the PVC’s tenure, as defined by statute 4(2), concluded with the VC’s term.
  • Previous precedent indicated that, rather than using Section 11(3) as it did in this instance, the appointment of PVC was done in accordance with statutes 2(6) and 4(2), subject to EC approval.
  • The petitioner argued that it was unlawful and in violation of Statute 2(6) for the departing Vc to have appointed respondent no. 2 as the Officiating VC in the absence of any exigent circumstances.
  • It was contended that the visitor’s or the EC’s powers could not become meaningless as a result of the excercise of powers under Section 11(3).
  • The petitioner contended that statue 2(6) did not apply to the regular expiration of the VC’s term, but rather to temporary or unanticipated vacancies.
  • The petitioner asked the court to grant a quo warranto writ in order to invalidate and set aside respondent no. 2’s appointments.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:

  • It was claimed that the relevant provisions of the JMI Act and the statutes established thereunder had been followed in the appointment of respondent no. 2 as PVC and subsequent officiating VC.
  • It was maintained that the use of the JMI Act statute 2(6) read with section 11(3) as a stop gap measure was appropriate, particularly in emergency situations.
  • In order to guarantee the efficient operation of the university’s administrative apparatus, the respondent argued in favour of a liberal interpretation of the statutes and regulations.
  • They argued that there was precedent for such appointments due to previous office rules and practices.
  • The response highlighted the extensive authority granted to the VC, which includes the ability to act immediately in emergency situations and the need for follow up reporting.
  • It was contended that, if truly harmed, the petitioner could have sought legislative remedies or legal action but chose not to do so, suggesting that there were other effective remedies available.
  • The respondent contended that the statutes, namely the second proviso of statute 4(2), covered the respondent no. 2’s continued role as an officiating VC beyond the expiration of the preceding VC.
  • They disputed arguments that university statutes and UGC regulations were in conflict, stating that the appointment procedure complied with the law.
  • The response argued that since the Executive Council might meet to make decisions as needed, the appointments were not automatically invalidated by their failure to receive their consent.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS:

  • The court carefully examined pertinent laws, legislation, regulations, and precedents in addition to going over the arguments made by each party in detail.
  • Respondent No. 2, the party impacted, was given the chance to make their case in front of the court.
  • The court looked at pertinent sections of the University’s statutes and the JMI Act, 1988 in relation to the appointment of the PVC and VC.
  • It was made clear that the Executive Council acting on the VC’s suggestion, appointed the PVC and the University visitor appointed the VC.
  • The terms and restrictions pertaining to the VC and PVC’s tenure, reappointment, and retirement were made clear by the court.
  • Clause 6 of statute 2 pertaining to the PVC’s temporary discharge of VC functions was interpreted by it, with a focus on circumstances where a vacancy results from a death, resignation, absence, illness, or any other temporary cause.
  • The court examined statute 4, which deals with the appointment and terms of the PVC, emphasising the visitor’s function in the event of a disagreement and the EC’s appointment authority.
  • It covered section 11 of the JMI Act, with special attention to the VC’s emergency powers and the grievances procedure for harmed parties.
  • The court came to the conclusion that respondent no. 2’s appointment as PVC and his subsequent performance of his duties as an officiating VC were compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • It stated that the acts were compliant with the emergency powers that the then VC had used in accordance with jJMI Act section 11(3).
  • In general, the court’s ruling maintained respondent no. 2’s appointment and acts, concluding that they were compliant with the relevant legislation and laws.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, the court decided that respondent no. 2’s appointment as PVC, and performance as the Officiating VC were lawfully sound since they complied with all applicable laws and rules, including the VC’s use of emergency powers.

 
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