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Dr. Sukh Pal Singh
Dr. Sukh Pal Singh
Apprentice Lawyer

Why a writ petition has been filed against this NLU Vice-Chancellor [Updated]

Aditya AK

Prof Sukh Pal Singh, the current Vice-Chancellor of the Hidayatullah National Law University in Raipur, has been approached against before the Chhattisgarh High Court, reports Hitavada.

The Chairman of the state’s bar council Kosh Ram Sahu has challenged the extension of Prof Singh’s tenure as Vice-Chancellor of the University, a decision that was taken in December 2014.

And the High Court has issued notice.

What are the grounds for filing the writ?

Sahu told Bar & Bench that Prof Singh was appointed as VC in March 2011, and that his five-year tenure was renewed on December 6, 2014, one and a half years before the completion of the first tenure.

According to an amendment to the HNLU Act of 2003, it is possible for the renewal of a Vice-Chancellor’s tenure before the expiry of his first term.

Sub-clause (5) (A) of clause 19 states:

“On the basis of satisfactory services, well before the expiry of normal tenure, the Executive Council of the University may recommend to the Chancellor of the University to extend the existing tenure of the Vice-Chancellor, beyond his/her initial tenure, for a period of next five years and the Chancellor shall have the power to grant such extension of the existing tenure of the Vice-Chancellor, provided that such extension of tenure of the Vice-Chancellor can be upto the age of seventy years only.”

However, Sahu, who is an ex-officio member of the University’s Executive Council, revealed that no such recommendation was made to erstwhile Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court and HNLU Chancellor Navin Sinha J. 

Other members of the Executive Council include sitting judges of the High Court, the state’s Advocate General and the Chairman of the Bar Council of India.

In fact, Sahu said that the extension of Prof Singh’s tenure was not even a part of the agenda for the General Council meeting held on December 6, 2014. He also stressed that he was not too happy with Prof Singh’s performance since his appointment, saying that the University’s ratings have dropped in the recent past.

Prof Singh, on the other hand, refused to comment as the matter is pending in the High Court. However, he revealed that a similar challenge in the High Court was dismissed last year.

Advocate Sumesh Bajaj will appear for the Vice-Chancellor in the High Court, whereas Satish Verma will appear for the petitioner.

Update: In an email response to Bar & Bench, the University refuted Sahu’s claims saying that,

“…the Executive Council of the University in its meeting dated 06.09.2014 had recommended to the Hon’ble Chancellor for extension of the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor as per rules and provisions of the Act & Statutes…”

With respect to Sahu’s claim that HNLU had seen a drop in ratings, the University’s Registrar-in-Charge said that,

“The fact remains that before joining of Prof. Singh as Vice Chancellor, the University was nowhere in rank and after his appointment as Vice Chancellor the University has secured 7th, 9th and 11th Ranks among top 20 Law Universities of India in the survey conducted by India Today, Out Look and Education World.”