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Thursday, January 22, 2009

RTI Query Reveals Vice Chancellors of Central Universities Above Law

At a meeting of the RTI Group the members directed the General Secretary to address a memorandum to the President of India, in the capacity as Visitor of Central Universities, with a request to establish a Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities.

D. no. 257/RTIG/FAD January 20, 2009


Hon’ble Smt. Pratibha Patil
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi 110001

Your Excellency,
The RTI Group is a voluntary organisation of committed citizens of India working towards making Central Universities, premier educational institutes of our Country, corruption free, efficient, accountable and transparent. Over the years, as also notified by the President of India from time to time, the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities have in practice abandoned democratic institutions and corollary the rule of law breeding corruption and inefficiency helped by the unaccountability implicit in the absence of rules enforcing transparency.

2. Among its other efforts the RTI Group filed an application under Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) seeking information on certain illegal appointments of retired non-teaching staff by circumventing procedures at the Aligarh Muslim University. On the basis of the information the Group appealed for instituting an Inquiry to fix responsibility for such blatant violations. The response to the request by Mr. Abdul Majid Khan, Deputy Registrar (Administration-Teaching) vide No. Admin/LD/258/RTI dated August 31, 2007, included file noting, which noted:

“If any enquiry has to be made against the then Vice Chancellor in the case of engagement of Consultants contrary to the rules to fix the responsibility, the Visitor is the competent authority to institute an inquiry or to constitute a committee to enquire into the matter to fix the responsibility”.

3. Since under the Act and Statutes of the Universities it is the duty of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities, as whole-time salaried employees, to ensure that University Rules are duly observed, therefore it was reasonably presumed they would be liable to accountability like any other whole time salaried employee.

4. The Group filed an application under RTI with Aligarh Muslim University to provide a copy of the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for the Vice Chancellor. The reply stated that the University Rules do not indicate these and for the desired information the applicant may approach the President in his capacity as the Visitor of the University, the appointing authority of the Vice Chancellor. The Group then filed RTI applications with the Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia, and Jawahar Lal Nehru University and received similar replies. An RTI application was also filed with the Secretariat of the President of India to which vide No. F.19-20/2006-Desk(U) dated December 12, 2007, Mr. RD Sahay, Director and CPIO, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, replied:

“…the Act/Statutes neither provide the code of conduct of the Vice Chancellor nor lay down the procedure for conducting disciplinary proceedings for committing financial/administrative irregularities, including violation of explicit University rules etc…”

5. All offices including the highest of the land are accountable for their actions. Recently, in the wake of RTI the Parliament of India and the Judiciary, despite all its resistance, is made accountable for their actions.

6. Hon’ble Madam, in the era of participatory democracy ushered in by the people’s law, the RTI, it would be absolutely antithetical to the spirit of developments in the Country to continue without rules enforcing accountability on the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities, especially with the nation’s rapid economic growth and leaps towards a thriving democracy in which education will play a crucial role to take the nation forward in its endeavours.

7. Hon’ble Madam, we are sure, you will agree that it is crucial to rid centres of higher education of corruption and install in its place efficiency, accountability and transparency, which will enhance the free enquiry essential for academic growth and excellence.

Hon’ble Madam, the RTI Group urges upon you as the President of India and as the Visitor of Central Universities to direct framing of Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for Vice Chancellors of Central Universities to ensure efficiency, accountability and transparency in the functioning of these prestigious seats of higher learning.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely
Dr. Tariq Islam
General Secretary
Department of Philosophy
Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh-202002 (UP) INDIA

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