Appointment of Jamia Millia interim V-C revoked

The court said since Professor Hussain was not appointed in terms of statute, his continuation in the office of Vice Chancellor as the Officiating V-C cannot be permitted further.
 Jamia Millia Islamia University
Jamia Millia Islamia University

NEW DELHI: Six months after a group of senior professors of Jamia Millia Islamia University urged the administration to withdraw an ‘erroneous’ order regarding an appointment of the Officiating Vice Chancellor (V-C), the Delhi High Court on Wednesday quashed the appointment of Professor Eqbal Hussain as an Officiating V-C of the university with immediate effect.

The court said since Professor Hussain was not appointed in terms of statute, his continuation in the office of Vice Chancellor as the Officiating V-C cannot be permitted further.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, however, directed to ensure that the academic and administrative machinery of the university does not suffer or come to a complete halt, stating fresh appointment to the post of Officiating V-C should be made within one week.

The court also asked the ‘Visitor’, the President of India, to order initiation of the process of appointing a regular V-C in the meantime.

The court allowed the plea challenging Hussain’s appointment as the Pro V-C and subsequently as officiating V-C on the ground of violation of the statutes, ordinances and provisions of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act. The court further said there was no explanation as to why the office order appointing Hussain as the Pro V-C was not placed before the university’s Executive Council, the appointing authority, for its approval and confirmation.

Jamia gets new Officiating V-C

Meanwhile, soon after the high court order, Jamia Millia Islamia University issued an official statement announcing that Prof Mohammad Shakeel, Department of Civil Engineering, senior-most faculty in the university presently, has assumed the charge of the office of the V-C, Jamia Millia Islamia as the Officiating V-C on May 22, 2024 till a regular V-C assumes the office.

The new Officiating V-C Shakeel has appointed Nasim Haider, Deputy Registrar-I as the Officiating Registrar of Jamia with immediate effect till further orders, relieving Mohammad Hadis Lahiri, appointed Officiating Registrar March 28, 2024, from the post.

On September 14, 2023, then V-C Prof Najma Akhtar had appointed Hussain as the Jamia Pro V-C. Subsequently, upon Akhtar’s superannuation on November 12, 2023, another notification was issued by the Office of the Registrar about Hussain assuming the charge of Officiating V-C.

As per the Jamia Act, the term of Naib Shaikh ul Jamia (Office of Pro V-C) shall be decided by the Executive Council but it shall not exceed in any case, five years or until the expiration of the term of office of the V-C and he shall be eligible for reappointment. Only when the V-C’s office becomes vacant or if he is unable to perform duties, the Pro V-C shall discharge the duties of V-C and will be designated as the Officiating V-C until another person assumes charge of the office.

‘Appointment not sanctioned by Executive Council’

The petitioners contended that both the appointments were in violation of the provisions of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act and regulations issued by the UGC. The court observed that as per the procedure provided in the laws governing Jamia, Hussain’s name, as a recommended candidate of then V-C for Pro V-C’s post, ought to have been placed before the Executive Council for its approval prior to his appointment. “It is crystal clear that the mandate of Statute 4 of the Statutes of the University was not followed,” the court held.

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