MADURAI: While quashing the appointment of the Kalyani Mathivanan as Vice Chancellor of the Madurai Kamaraj University, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) drove home hard truths on the changed mandates for selecting persons to hold the top academic job.
Writing the judgment for the two-member division bench, Justice V Ramasubramanian pointed out that even accomplished scientist Albert Einstein cannot be appointed Vice Chancellor of any Indian university today unless he had the qualifications prescribed by the UGC. “After a legislative enactment lays down the objective criteria, there is no place for subjective satisfaction,” he made it clear adding that one should expect the standard bearer to first bear that standard.
Recalling the past, he said, previously men of eminence from various walks of life were appointed Vice Chancellors.
Even judges of the High Court had served as Vice Chancellors including at the University of Madras.
“But today, it is not possible to continue with the same legacy for two reasons — that we do not have such tall men of great eminence and that today the field is regulated by law,” the judge said.
Kalyani’s defence was that the post of professor was not there in any college in Tamil Nadu. In all government and aided colleges, only associate professors became heads of departments and therefore, the same must be treated as equivalent to that of a professor’s post. Rejecting this, the court pointed out that the post of Professor is a promotional post, above that of an Associate Professor and the scales of pay for the two posts were different.
Also, documents obtained under the Right to Information Act, produced by the petitioners, revealed that a majority of 104 candidates who had applied for the Vice Chancellor’s post had served as professors. Of the three persons short-listed by the search committee, two of them R Jayaraman and T Ramasamy were professors. Only Kalyani was an associate professor.
“We do not mean to say that the fourth respondent (Kalyani Mathivanan) is not an academician. She has always been a teacher and, Advocate General A L Somayaji took great pains to highlight the academic and other achievements of the fourth respondent. But we are solely (deciding) on the question as to whether we could concur with the opinion of the Bombay High Court that a Vice Chancellor is not part of the teaching staff,” the order said.
The judges said it was not possible for them to accept the interpretation that one can be the “academic head” but cannot be considered as part of the teaching staff. The bench felt “neither the Search Committee nor the (Governor) Chancellor had an occasion to consider whether or not she fulfilled the eligibility criteria or whether or not the non-fulfilment of the eligibility criteria prescribed by UGC could be saved by any prescription contained in the University Act.”
Any decision of a statutory authority has to be tested only on the touching stone of their own decision making process and not on the touching stone of legal inventions made post facto.
“Therefore, we are of the view that the fourth respondent (Kalyani Mathivanan) did not satisfy the eligibility criteria stipulated by the UGC Regulations 2010 for appointment as Vice Chancellor and that the non-fulfilment of such eligibility criteria cannot be completely white washed on the specious plea that the UGC Regulations 2010 are not mandatory,” the judges said while quashing her appointment.