Top
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Delhi High Court Rejects Challenge To Appointment Of Dr. Najma Akhtar As VC, Jamia Milia Islamia

Shreya Agarwal
6 March 2021 5:29 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Rejects Challenge To Appointment Of Dr. Najma Akhtar As VC, Jamia Milia Islamia
x

A single judge bench of Justice V Kameswar Rao of the Delhi High Court today rejected a quo warranto writ petition challenging the appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar as Vice Chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University for allegedly being illegal, arbitrary, void ab initio and non-est in law. The petition claims that Akhtar's appointment was in flagrant violation and "total non-compliance...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

A single judge bench of Justice V Kameswar Rao of the Delhi High Court today rejected a quo warranto writ petition challenging the appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar as Vice Chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University for allegedly being illegal, arbitrary, void ab initio and non-est in law.

The petition claims that Akhtar's appointment was in flagrant violation and "total non-compliance of the statutory provisions and regulations of Statute 2(1) of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988 read with clause 7.3.0 of the UGC Regulations, 2010" as amended from time-to-time.

The petitioner is an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia University. Jamia University is a Central University under the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988 (JMI Act). He was represented by Sr. Adv. Akhil Sibal in the case.

Facts

The brief facts of the case were that consequent to the acceptance of the resignation of the then serving Vice-Chancellor of the University by the Visitor/ the President of India, the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource and Development advertised the post of the Vice-Chancellor with the last date of receipt of application as September 9, 2018. The eligibility requirements were as per the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the maintenance of standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2010. Pursuant to this, the President of India, went ahead and approved the name of Prof. D.P. Singh, Chairman, UGC as Chairman of the Search Committee. Two other members were appointed to the Committee.

Petitioner's Stand

The petitioner argued that that S. 2(1) of the JMI Act empowers only the Visitor to nominate one person as the Chairman of the Search Committee, by applying his mind independently and to take a decision objectively, without being influenced by the recommendation of the Minister. Further, that the same cannot be construed to confer authority on, or to empower, the Minister to exercise direct or indirect control over the process or procedure under the JMI Act.

Sibal argued that, "No provision in the JMI Act empowers the Minister to recommend a panel of names for the nomination by the Visitor." On this basis, he said that the appointment of Prof DP Singh as Chairman, Search Committee was null and void ab initio.

On the appointment of the other member, Justice (Retd.) MSA Siddiqui, Sibal argued that "even though he has also served as the former Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, New Delhi, he is not 'a person of eminence in the sphere of higher education', and therefore his nomination as a member of the Search Committee is void ab initio and in clear infringement of Clause 7.3 of the UGC Regulations."

Sibal alleged that the appointment of Siddiqui and Singh was marred by illegalities, yet, the Search Committee had shortlisted candidates for further consideration, and vide a "completely non-speaking order, without recording reasons," recommended a panel of three names - Prof. Furqan Qamar, AIU, New Delhi; Prof. Najma Akhtar, NIEPA, New Delhi, and; Prof. Saiyed Muzaffar Ishtiaque, IIT-Delhi, New Delhi. According to the petitioner, this non-speaking order was in violation of Clause 7.3 (ii) of the UGC Regulations read with Statute 2(1) of the JMI Act.

Centre's Stand

The centre was represented in the case by ASG Chetan Sharma, who argued that vide the meeting dated November 06, 2018, the Search Committee was duly constituted by the Visitor's Nominee and Chairman of the Committee and the Executive Council Nominees in terms of Statute 2 (1) of the JMI Act. Further, that this duly constituted Search Committee had carried out the process of scrutinizing the applications based on (a) academic achievements (b) administrative experience (c) research contributions and (d) contribution in the corporate life of the institutions and thereafter shortlisted 13 candidates for personal interaction on November 28, 2018. 23.

"The Search Committee, after personal interaction with the shortlisted candidates, unanimously recommended a panel of three names for the consideration of the Visitor", he said.

Sharma also argued that as per the standard procedure followed by the answering respondent for appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the University, vigilance report of the recommended candidate, Akhtar, in this case, was sought from the concerned stakeholders from (i) National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration and (ii) Vigilance Section of the Ministry, and that NIEPA informed them that no vigilance case was either pending or contemplated against Akhtar.

The court noted, inter alia, that position of law is that the Court cannot sit in appeal over the decision taken by the Search Committee. "Rather the scope is limited to judicial review of the decision whereby the Court is only concerned with whether the incumbent possessed qualifications for the appointment and the manner in which the appointment came to be made or whether the procedure adopted was fair, just and reasonable."

Finding the appointment to be justified, the challenge was rejected.

Click Hear To Download/Read Judgment


Next Story
Share it