Appointment of new Gauhati University VC marred by controversy

Saturday, 15 August 2020


Appointment of new Gauhati University VC marred by controversy

Saumya Mishra | October 03, 2018 17:46 hrs

GUWAHATI: The appointment process for the new vice-chancellor (VC) of Gauhati University (GU) has been stalled for the time being with the Gauhati High Court (GHC) putting in place a stay order on the selection process.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the current vice-chancellor, Dr Mridul Hazarika, has continued to hold the post for an extended period after his term came to an end on August 17.
According to sources, it has been the norm to appoint the new VC before the term of the incumbent VC ends. 

“This norm was being followed for the past many years. The fundamental issue this time was that a new VC was not appointed before the end of the tenure of the incumbent VC,” said a highly placed source in GU, on the condition of anonymity.  
Sources informed G Plus that the worrying trend of not appointing a new VC before the end of the term of the incumbent VC has also been followed in other universities including Dibrugarh University as well as Tezpur University apart from Gauhati University, he added. 
Additionally, some people have also claimed that the issue of appointing a regular vice-chancellor in the universities is not being taken seriously by the government. 
As part of the process for selection of a VC of a state university, there is a three-member search-cum-selection committee (SCSC), the members of which are nominated by the university, state government and the governor respectively. 

However, according to University Grants Commission (UGC) norms, the members of the committee cannot be associated with the university in any way. But in the case of GU, a member of the SCSC appointed by the executive council of the university has also been a member of the university selection committee which oversees appointment of teachers, informed authorities.
The Gauhati University Teachers’ Association has also raised this issue with the chancellor but no action was taken. Therefore, a petition was filed in the Gauhati High Court regarding the sanctity of the search committee, resulting in a stay order being issued by the court.

The order was issued on the day the interview was scheduled, deferring the selection process.     
Talking to G Plus, Dr Mridul Hazarika said that currently the matter is with the chancellor of the university, ie, the Governor.

“Everything is being looked after by the chancellor, although another party has gone to court. The chancellor has been made a party on September 22,” said Dr Hazarika and refused to further comment on the issue. 
Further, Sanjib Gohain Baruah, secretary to Assam governor, informed that they have constituted an advisory committee for the selection but the process has been stalled for the time being. 

Govt alleged of trying to appoint political nominee

Additionally, several faculty members of the Gauhati University are of the opinion that the government is trying to appoint a political nominee in the university.
“This is a disturbing trend which is being followed in the entire country of late. The government has been increasingly interfering in the workings of the universities thereby reducing them to become spaces of ideological imposition,” said a source. 
He added that he hopes that GU’s VC appointment will not follow the footsteps of other universities in the country and will continue to remain an institution where no political ideology is forced on the students as well as the teachers and it continues being a space of free speech. 

The unprecedented and unconstitutional nature of events which followed the VC selection process rang an alarm among some of the faculty members, urging them to seek the support of the High Court. 

“There is no dearth of people and the university could have appointed a person who is not connected to the university in any way in the search-cum-selection committee and could have appointed a vice-chancellor ahead of the end of term of the incumbent vice chancellor. In the last 15-20 years, these issues had never come up in Gauhati University but suddenly the government not finding a person to be appointed as the vice chancellor is a serious issue,” said a source in GU.  
Further, a petition has also been filed against the continuation of the incumbent VC even after the end of his term. This has been challenged in the High Court and a judgement is awaited in the same, informed officials.

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