NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought response from the Centre, Central Vigilance Commission and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on a plea challenging the appointment of the varsity’s current Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar.
The court was hearing an appeal challenging a single-judge’s March 5 order that dismissed the plea challenging the JMI VC’s appointment saying there was no merit in the petition.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh also issued notices to University Grants Commission (UGC) and Akhtar on the petition and asked the authorities to file their replies while listing the matter for further hearing on September 22.
The appeal has been filed by M Ethesham-Ul-Haque, an alumnus of Faculty of Law at JMI, challenging the appointment claiming that there was violation of regulations issued by the UGC and JMI Act.
Advocates Mobashshir Sarwar and MJ Shaikh, representing the appellant, claimed that the entire process culminating into the appointment of Akhtar is a colourable exercise of power and in flagrant violation and total non-compliance of the statutory provisions of the JMI Act.
“The single judge failed to appreciate that the very process followed by the search committee seems to have delegated critical and fundamental aspect of gauging the ‘suitability’ and ‘eligibility’ of a candidate vis-à-vis vigilance clearance available with the said candidate,” the appeal said.
The single-judge, in its order, had said that the petitioner has not been able to show that any express provision of either the UGC Regulations or the JMI Act has been flouted while making the appointment of Akhtar as the Vice-Chancellor of the university.
It had highlighted the position of law that court cannot sit in appeal over the decision taken by the Search Committee, set up to select prospective candidates for the post.
“Rather the scope is limited to judicial review of the decision whereby the court is only concerned with whether the incumbent possessed qualifications for the appointment and the manner in which the appointment came to be made or whether the procedure adopted was fair, just and reasonable,” the court said.
“The above discussion shows the appointment of respondent no.2 (Akhtar) is justified. I do not see any merit in the petition. The petition is dismissed,” the single-judge had said.
The petitioner had alleged that Akhtar’s appointment was invalid for the reasons that the search committee was constituted illegally and that she had been denied CVC clearance initially. The denial of clearance was revoked after the MHRD’s intervention, the petition had alleged.