Plea before Delhi HC challenges appointment of Dr Najma Akhtar as Jamia VC
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Plea before Delhi HC challenges appointment of Dr Najma Akhtar as Jamia VC

The Court has sought response to the petition from Najma, Centre, CVC, UGC and Jamia.

Aditi Singh

A petition has been filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the appointment of Dr Najma Akhtar as the Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice AK Chawla had sought a response to the petition from Najma, Central Government, Central Vigilance Commission, University Grants Commission and the University.

The petition has been preferred by an Advocate M Ehtesham-ul-Haque.

The petitioner has alleged that the entire process which culminated into the appointment of Dr Akhtar as the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia was a colourable exercise of power and in flagrant violation of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988 read with Clause 7.3.0 of 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.

The petitioner informs that in August 2018, Justice (Retd.) MSA Siddiqui and Prof Ramakrishna Ramaswamy were appointed as members of the Search Committee for the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor. It is the Petitioner's grievance that although the Petitioner has the highest regard for Justice (Retd.) Siddiqui, he was not a “person of eminence in the sphere of higher education” as per the applicable Statute & Regulations for members of Search Committee.

The Petitioner has thus alleged that since the nomination of a member of the Search Committee is void ab initio and bad in law, any appointment on that basis is untenable in law.

The Petitioner has further alleged interference by the Central Government at the time of appointment of the Chairman to the Search Committee.

It is submitted that under the Jamia Act, the President of India was obligated to appoint the Chairman independently, as per his discretion.

However, in the present case, the petitioner has alleged that the Chairman of the Search Committee was appointed from the list of names given by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

It is also alleged that the shortlisting of the final three candidates was done by the Committee through non-speaking letter, without recording its satisfaction that the persons so recommended had the "highest levels of competence, integrity, morals and institutional commitment".

The Petitioner has also submitted that the CVC had initially denied clearance to Dr Akhtar. The same was, however, revoked by the MHRD’s intervention which is impermissible in law.

The Petitioner has finally alleged that the acceptance of Dr Akhtar's name as the Vice-Chancellor by the President was without any independent application of mind.

In view of the above, the Petitioner has sought for a declaration in the nature of quo warranto declaring the appointment of Dr Akhtar as illegal, arbitrary, void ab initio and non est in law.

The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Mobashshir Sarwar.

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