The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 22-09-2022 | 12:50 am
Disposing of a petition by Gujarat Vidyapith (GV) Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Dr Rajendra Khimani, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the GV to “pass appropriate orders” within eight weeks based on the report by University Grants Commission that had sought his dismissal of owing to observation of procedural lapses in his appointment and lapses by Khimani on the “administrative and financial functioning” of GV during his time as registrar.The court also orally remarked, “Within my heart I’m giving them time of eight weeks because I have serious doubt whether the Vidyapith (will do it).”Gujarat Vidyapith is a deemed university under UGC Act 1956 and Khimani was appointed as registrar in 2004 and remained so until 2019. He was appointed as V-C in June 2021. The UGC, in its 554th meeting, presided over by the then chairman Prof Dhirendra Pal Singh on November 25,2021, had resolved “to direct the Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith”, Ela Bhatt, to remove Khimani as V-C with immediate effect.The commission considered the report of the UGC Committee constituted to look into the appointment of Dr Khimani and observed “there are procedural lapses in the appointment of Dr Rajendra Khimani as V-C of Gujarat Vidyapith” and the fact finding committee of UGC constituted separately has found that “Dr Rajendra Khimani was also responsible for certain lapses in the administrative and financial functioning of the Gujarat Vidyapith as Registrar”.Khimani had moved a petition before Gujarat HC in March this year and the court on March 22 had directed UGC to not take “coercive steps”.Khimani had sought that the court quash and set aside the decision taken by UGC on November 25, 2021 directing for removal of Khimani as V-C with immediate effect and to hold such a decision as “illegal, arbitrary and is in breach of UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations 2019.”UGC had pointed out that his appointment was not in accordance with regulations and action must be taken by his removal from the post of VC for purported misconducts.Dr Navin Sheth, a central government appointed nominee in the committee for Khimani’s appointment, had dissented to Khimani’s appointment.Relying on UGC regulations, the court, while not entering into the merits of the case, held that the dissent note “indicated that the petitioner had certain CVC inquiries pending and therefore was not eligible for appointment.”Observing that the inquiry committee as constituted by the UGC chairperson and its report further indicated and “confirmed” the ineligibility of Khimani’s appointment, the court of Justice Biren Vaishnav observed, “The stage is now set for Gujarat Vidyapith to follow due process and pass appropriate orders as suggested in 554th minutes of the meeting of UGC. It is not open for GV to say that UGC has mandated them to pass an order for removal. What the UGC has done is in accordance with law…”“Reading of the affidavit of GV indicates that they are ignorant of the 554th minutes of the meeting. That benefit of doubt I will not give GV. The same was uploaded on the website. The petitioner as V-C approached this court challenging that action. The Vidyapith seems to have justified the appointment of the petitioner. The justification or the merits, this court will not go into at this stage, as it is expected of Vidyapith to follow the due process as envisaged under the Regulations and pass orders as mandated/by the rule,” it added.