CHENNAI: The rift in the Academic council of Madras University has come to the fore with a section expected to challenge the resolutions passed at Saturday’s meeting claiming that the chair lacked legitimacy.
Members of this faction point out that Professor K Jothi Sivagnanam, head of Economics Department, chaired the council meeting on Saturday while the chair should have been elected among the members present.
According to the University Statute, all the academic council meetings should be presided by the Vice Chancellor and in their absence, the members should elect a Chairman from among themselves.
With the Vice Chancellor’s post remaining vacant since the month of January, the meeting rather than having an election had a self-declared chairman, the dissenting members of the meeting told Express.
Professor K Jothi Sivagnanam, who is also one of three-member convener’s committee, had reportedly declared that he would preside over the meet without election.
Sources said Professor Jothi had vehemently opposed an election when a top official from the university pointed it and occupied the chair forcibly.
Speaking to Express on condition of anonymity, the top official said the professor (Jothi Sivagnanam) had claimed that being a member of the convener’s committee, his role was equivalent to that of the VC by default.
“This is not a technical glitch, but a gross violation of the statute and against the university’s tradition of electing chairpersons during the Vice Chancellor’s absence in not only in academic council meetings, but also the senate and syndicate meetings,” he said.
Reacting to these allegations, professor Jothi said, “There was no precedence of electing the chairman in academic council meetings. This particular statute which the top official pointed out was applicable only during temporary absence were the V-Cs travel out of town and were not available due to unforeseen reasons for a short period and not when the post is vacant.”
He added that there is another provision in the statute allowing the convener committee to discharge the powers and function the powers of the V-C on absence or act as a substitute.
Rejecting this, a senior academic council member said, “If challenged in Court, the entire meeting would be declared as illegitimate and all resolutions declared null and void.”
Aggrieved over the incident, certain members, are planning to file a formal complaint with Governor K Rosaiah, who is also the University’s Chancellor.
The senior council member added that apart from the declaring all the results of the meeting illegal, taking action against the particular professor is within the Governor’s purview.