On October 16, the former Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir (CUK) demitted his office after attaining the age of 70 years. As per the University Act, the outgoing VC before leaving his office is supposed to appoint an in-charge VC for the University till the permanent VC for the University is appointed.
The University Act says that a senior most professor of the University can be appointed as in-charge VC of the University after the incumbent demits the office.
During the morning hours of October 16, the former VC Prof. Mehraj ud Din Mir made a statement that he has to select a senior most professor who will be given the charges of in-charge VC for the university.
Strangely, in the evening his second statement came as a shocker that due to busy schedule and other engagements, most probably his farewell party, the charges were not given to any professor. He stated that the order in this regard will be issued on October 18 (Monday). It was very strange to know that the University will be without a VC for a day or two which according to rules is not possible at all. The statement of the former VC was countered by the Registrar CUK Prof Muhammad Afzal Zargar when he said that a University cannot be without a VC for even a second.
On Monday, it came as a shocker when the appointment order of the in-charge VC of CUK was circulated through some professors of the University which was however kept hidden by the varsity administration. Shockingly the order was issued and signed on October 16 (Saturday) which contradicted the claims of the former VC that the order will be issued on Monday.
While the order was issued on Saturday afternoon it was not uploaded on the official website of the University which raised questions over the appointment of the in-charge vice chancellor.
Besides making contradictory statements over appointment of the in-charge VC of the University, there are complaints and allegations that the varsity administration violated the University Act as the person appointed in-charge vice chancellor was nit the senior most professor of the University.
Going by the statement of the former VC of the CUK and the incumbent Registrar of the University it apparently seemed that administration was trying to hide the appointment of new in-charge VC for unknown reasons.
The sequence of events depicts that the university in violation of rules has managed to appoint the in-charge VC of the University. This may seem mere an allegation but going by the statements of the incumbent Registrar of the University, it seems that the complaints cannot be ignored at all.
As the appointment order of the in-charge VC of the CUK, signed on October 16, reached some professors on Monday, the university administration was questioned for violating the seniority list of the professors of the University.
The professors questioned the appointment of the in-charge VC saying that the authorities have manipulated the Seniority list to enable their favorite professor to take over as in-charge VC.
The professors of the University have sought the intervention of the Union Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Chancellor CUK to probe the appointment of the in-charge VC of the University. The professors stated that the Act does not allow university administration to adopt any alternative measures except the seniority of the professors to appoint the in-charge VC of the University.
The allegations cannot be rejected given the fact that earlier the University authorities kept the order confidential, apprehending backlash. Later on the insistence of the university stakeholders the order was made public after two days.
The professors say that the university administration brazenly ignored the position of Prof. Abdul Gani, a senior most professor in the University and appointed Professor Farooq Ahmad Shah as the in-charge VC of the University. The matter of fact is that the in-charge VC has done his P.hD under the supervision of Prof Abdul Gani.A document assessed by me shows that the Professor Farooq Shah joined as Professor under Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) on August 14 of 2013 while Prof Abdul Gani has joined as Professor on July 30 of 2013 which openly indicates that professor Abdul Gani is senior to Professor Shah but the university has manipulated the seniority list while appointing in-charge VC of the University.
When the Registrar CUK was questioned about the appointment of the in-charge VC of the University he firstly contradicted the statement of former VC and said the order was issued on October 16 but it was not updated on the website due to their engagements with the farewell party of the former VC.
He defended the appointment of Prof Farooq Ahmad Shah as in-charge VC saying that he was made professor under CAS and with the retrospective effect he will be considered a professor of the University from 2012. He was however quick to add that no order was issued regarding the appointment of Prof Farooq Ahmad Shah as the seniority list was not yet finalized.
In the second statement he said there was confusion about the seniority of the professors and the arrangement in the university is such that no seniority list of professors has been issued in the University.
He said the charges were handed over to Prof. Farooq Ahmad Shah for being Director Research and Development which is considered as second in line in the position of the University. BUT the Registrar has perhaps forgotten that the University Act says that a senior most professor has to be given the charge of in-charge Vice Chancellor. There is no mention of the designation.
Normally, every University is supposed to maintain a seniority list of professors and upload it on the university Website. In the last eight years, the university authorities have failed to formulate a proper seniority list which raises questions on the competence of the varsity administration.
Justifying the appointment of Prof Farooq Ahmad Shah, the Registrar CUK said there were other issues associated with Prof Abdul Gani that he has not been assigned with any Vice Chancellorship for the past many years in absence of the incumbent VC.
“When the VC used to be out of station he would give the charges to Prof Bhat who was then in the service,” he said.
While the seniority is not derived in the CUK, the Registrar said an alternative mechanism was adopted to appoint in-charge VC of the University. He however did not explain the mechanism in detail but said there were certain striking things which were sent to the Union Ministry to explain the grounds on which the appointment was made.
While the questions are being raised over the appointment of the in-charge, there are other issues which are being probed in the University. In July this year, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) registered an FIR in Police Station ACB Srinagar against the officers and officials of Central University of Kashmir for malpractices in the execution of works at Central University of Kashmir, Ganderbal.
The ACB in a statement said the instant case was registered on the basis of a verification conducted which revealed that e-tender having NIT No. ET/01 of 2017-CUKMR/CD/F/N0.44/16/31 dated 09.06.2017 was floated by Central University of Kashmir authorities for construction of Academic Block adjacent to site office at Central University of Kashmir Campus Tulmulla, Ganderbal with an advertising cost of Rs. 4,40,41,780.00.
Before that, ACB and CBI conducted raids for reported financial and administrative irregularities in the University and its officials and engineers. Many FIRs were lodged for wrong doings in the University.
While the irregularities are being probed, the CUK has now raised another controversy over appointment of in-charge VC. The Union Education Ministry and the Chancellor’s office should thoroughly probe the appointment and the so-called alternative mechanism adopted should be made public which will clear the air. The University is the highest seat of learning and a public institution. So there should be nothing kept under the carpet be it appointment of in-charge VC or any other development. Hope the alternative mechanism which according to the Registrar has been conveyed to the Union Ministry will be put in public domain for the better understanding of all the stakeholders. Any misconception should not bring a bad name to the University.
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 reflect the views of GK.