Explained: The J&K Public Universities Bill

Here we explain some of the salient features of the proposed legislative framework that would govern the establishment and jurisdiction of the existing public universities in J&K
File photo of Jammu University. [Image for representational purpose only]
File photo of Jammu University. [Image for representational purpose only] jammuuniversity.ac.in

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Universities Act-2022’ shall come into force on such date as the Government may issue the relevant Gazette Notification in this regard. Besides other regulatory mechanisms to govern establishment, incorporation and functioning of “public universities” in Jammu and Kashmir, the proposed Act provides for establishment of the The Jammu and Kashmir Higher Education Council, which shall act as an advisory body for higher education in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be headed by Chancellor, and the Act says that the “Lieutenant Governor shall be the Chancellor of the University.”

The Act grants the Chancellor “powers and functions”, including that the Chancellor, when present, shall preside over the Convocation of the University, Chair the Governing Council of the University and may issue directions to the Vice-Chancellor to convene the meeting of any authority of the University for specific purposes, whenever necessary, and the Vice-Chancellor shall submit the minutes of such meeting to the Chancellor for his perusal; The Chancellor will appoint and remove Vice-Chancellor in accordance with the provisions under section 18 and section 21  of the Act.

“Where, in the opinion of the Chancellor, the conduct of any elected or nominated or appointed or co-opted member is detrimental to the smooth functioning of the University or any authority or body or committee, he may, after allowing the such member to offer his explanation in writing and after considering such explanation, if any, and satisfying himself that it is necessary so to do, disqualify such member or suspend him for such period, as he may deem fit,” the Act says.

“Where the Chancellor is satisfied that any officer, member of the officer cadre, teacher, or any employee of any category or any part-time, casual, or temporary employee, including pensioners of the University, has/had acted in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State or the unity and integrity of the Country and is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State it is not expedient to hold an inquiry,  he may dismiss or remove or reduce in rank any such officer, member of the officer cadre,  employee or temporary employee or faculty or take such other action as appropriate without an inquiry,” the Act further says.

“The Chancellor shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be conferred upon or vested in him by or under this Act.”

The new Act says the Vice-Chancellor shall be the principal executive and academic officer of the University, the Chairperson of the Academic Council, and co-chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee and shall be entitled to be present and speak at any meeting of any authority or other body of the University and shall in the absence of the Chancellor preside over the meetings of the Governing Council.

“The Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be eligible for reappointment to that office for a second term: Provided that no person who has exceeded the age of sixty-five years can continue to hold an appointment as Vice-Chancellor,” the Act says.

“The Vice-Chancellor shall, subject to the provision contained in Section 16 (3), hold office for a term of three years or he attains the age of sixty-five, whichever is earlier: Provided that a serving Vice-Chancellor shall continue to hold the office as a caretaker or acting Vice-Chancellor even after the expiry of his term till a new Vice-Chancellor joins, for a period shall not exceeding 6 months. The Caretaker or acting Vice-Chancellor shall not take any decision on a policy matter or make any appointments during this period without the prior and written approval of the Chancellor.

In the event of a new Vice Chancellor, not taking charge within 6 months of the expiry of the term of the existing Vice Chancellor, the Chancellor shall assign the charge to any suitable person other than the existing Vice-Chancellor till a permanent appointment is made,” the Act mentions.

The Administrative Secretary, Finance Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, nominated by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir shall be the ex officio Financial Adviser to the University.

The Financial Adviser shall exercise general supervision over the funds of each University and shall advise it as regards its financial policy. The Financial Advisor shall be an ex officio member of the Governing Council and the Chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee of the University.

The Registrar shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the University. The Government shall nominate any serving officer of the administrative services or any eligible serving civil servant of appropriate seniority, to act as the Registrar on a deputation basis on such terms and conditions as prescribed.

The Registrar will be the member-secretary of the Academic Council but shall not have the right to vote.

He shall be the appointing and the disciplinary authority of the employees of the University other than the teachers, non-vacation academic staff, and officers of the rank of Assistant Registrar, and other officers holding posts equivalent thereto or above. He shall also be the custodian of the records, the common seal, and such other property of the University as the Governing Council may commit to his charge.

The Registrar shall have the power to seek information in regard to any matter of the University, from the Deans, Finance and Accounts Officer, and any other officer of the University for Submission to the Government and other external agencies.

There shall be a Finance Officer for the University, who shall be appointed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir on a deputation basis by a notification published in the Official Gazette, and his remuneration and allowances shall be paid by the University.

The Finance Officer shall: exercise general supervision over the funds of the University and advise the Vice-Chancellor as regards the finances of the University; hold and manage the funds, property, and investments, including trust and endowed property, for furthering the objects of the University, with the approval of the Vice-Chancellor;  monitor the state of the cash and bank balances and investments; ensure effective revenue management by regulating the process and progress of the collection of revenue, and advise the Vice-Chancellor on the methods to be employed in this regard; get the accounts of the University audited, regularly;  ensure that the registers of buildings, land, equipment, machinery, and other assets are maintained up-to-date and that the physical verification and reconciliation of these assets and other consumable materials in all offices, colleges, and other institutions and stores of the University are conducted regularly.

The Act says the Controller of Examinations shall be a whole-time officer of the University and his remuneration and allowances shall be paid by the University.

The Controller of Examinations shall be responsible for the due custody of all records pertaining to the conduct of examinations. He shall be the ex-officio Secretary of the Examinations Committee of the University and shall be bound to place before such Committee all such information as may be necessary for the transaction of its business.

The Act says the Governing Council, top decision making body of the Universities, shall consist of the following persons, namely,  the Chancellor;  Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir; the Vice-Chancellor; Administrative Secretary of the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Higher Education; Administrative Secretary of the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Finance; two Deans of the University, to be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor on rotation for three years from the date of nomination; three teachers to be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor from amongst the teaching faculty of the University, one each representing the Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor, based on seniority and rotation in the respective cadres; two persons nominated by the Chancellor, out of a panel submitted by the Higher Education Department who are eminent academicians or persons of scholarly pursuit, National or International experts, or eminent personalities belonging to the fields of art, culture, languages, science, and technology including Educational Technology (EdTech) or professionals from the Industry or the Civil Service. In the case of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, the panel shall be submitted by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, and in the case of Islamic University of Science and Technology and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University the Higher Education Department shall consult the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Auqaf before furnishing the panel to the Chancellor.

The Finance and Audit Committee shall be responsible for financial matters and such other matters as may be entrusted to it by the Governing Council and the Administrative Secretary of the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Finance shall be the Chairperson of the Committee. The Vice-Chancellor of the University shall be the co-chairperson of the Committee. The Management Council, second big decision making body of the Universities, shall consist of the following members, namely: the Vice-Chancellor, as the Chairperson of the Management Council; the Administrative Secretary of the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Higher Education; the Administrative Secretary of the Department of the Government entrusted with the subject of Finance or his nominee;  three eminent experts  from the field of education, culture, science, technology, industry, agriculture, commerce, banking, finance, and other allied fields to be nominated by the Chancellor; two Deans to be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor, by rotation; one head or Director, nominated by the Vice-Chancellor from amongst the heads or Directors of University Departments or University institutions for a tenure of one year, by rotation: Provided that, in rotating the Deans, heads, or Directors amongst Departments or University institutions, the earlier Departments or University institutions, which were given an opportunity of representation shall be ignored.

The Act says The Academic Council of a University shall consist of the following persons: the Vice-Chancellor as Chairperson; the Deans of the Faculties of the University concerned; the Head of the Department of the University concerned having the status of Professors or Associate Professor.

In the case of an affiliating or Cluster University, three Principals from the constituent and affiliated colleges of the University concerned by rotation, nominated by the Vice-Chancellor; three Professors of repute and outstanding academic standing from Universities/Institutions other than those established under this Act, nominated by the Vice-Chancellor; three experts who are nominated by the Chancellor including experts who possess special knowledge of subjects which may not otherwise be adequately represented on the Academic Council.

All universities established and regulated under the Act shall refer all Open and Direct posts of officer cadre and all teachers and equivalent positions in their universities to the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (JKPSC) for an all India advertisement and screening. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission shall conduct a screening process in the following manner for all applicants/candidates except those applying for the posts of Professor and equivalent positions.

No appointment at any level in the University shall be affected unless it has been transparently advertised and reasonable and adequate opportunity given to all Indian citizens irrespective of caste, creed, region, or religion to participate, subject to eligibility criterion and any short listing processes, to participate in the selection process. The new Act says that it shall be the duty of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission to hold and conduct an Eligibility test at the Jammu and Kashmir level in such subject or subjects as may be prescribed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not refl ect the views of GK.

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