Why V-C is an ex-soldier, not an academic: SC asks Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh Muslim University on Monday faced some tough questions from the Supreme Court over its choice of vice-chancellor, who is a former soldier and not a teacher.
The court wanted to know how Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah (retired) was appointed the vice chancellor by AMU, a central university, overlooking the regulations of the University Grants Commission, the higher education watchdog.
“The regulations make it compulsory for the VC to possess certain academic qualifications, saying he or she must be a distinguished academician. How can a retired army officer or a police officer be the head of a central university?” a bench of Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and justice AM Khanwilkar said.
“We are not questioning his abilities. We are on the question whether his appointment is as per the UGC regulations.”
The questions come at a time when the Uttar Pradesh-based university, set up as Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875, has waged a legal battle to keep its minority status intact.
A former student approached the top court after the Allahabad high court turned down his plea to remove Shah, who is the brother of renowned actor Naseeruddin.
The petition, citing UGC norms, says the VC should have worked for at least 10 years as a professor in a university or on an equivalent post in a research or academic institution.
Appearing for AMU, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said the UGC regulations were for teachers. “UGC has the power to regulate the appointment of teachers and not the VC,” he said, adding the university had not adopted the regulations.
But, the bench cited an earlier verdict that said all central universities would have to follow UGC regulations. “If there are regulations and applicable to a central university then the VC has to be appointed as per the scheme that says he must be an outstanding academician,” the CJI said.
The UGC, too, backed the petitioner, saying as a central university AMU was bound by its regulations even if it didn’t approve them. “They have to follow it,” the counsel said.
The court will continue hearing the case on September 26 as Ramachandran asked for time.