The Delhi High Court has restrained the heads of nine JNU centres from taking any major decisions and said that their appointment by the varsity’s Vice Chancellor was prima facie without any authority.
A bench headed by Justice Rajiv Shakdher stated that the Vice Chancellor is not vested with the power to appoint Chairpersons of Centres or Special Centres as the JNU statute confers the power of appointment on the Executive Council.
The bench, also comprising Justice Talwant Singh, was dealing with an appeal against a Single-Judge order which had refused to grant a stay on the appointments on a petition by Professor Atul Sood.
Observing that it was cognizant of the fact that the Centres/Special Centres need Chairpersons for effective functioning , the court requested the Single Judge, who is hearing the challenge to the appointments, to advance the hearing on the writ petition.
We are prima facie of the view that respondent no.2 (Vice Chancellor) is not vested with the power to appoint Chairpersons of Centres/Special Centres. The Statute confers the power of appointment on the Executive Council. Thus, clearly the appointment of Chairpersons of Centres/Special Centres by respondent no.2 is, as is evident at this stage, prima facie, without authority, the bench opined in its order dated October 26.
Pending decision in the writ petition, the nine (9) Chairpersons, who have been appointed.. (as stated in) Minutes of the 296th meeting of the Executive Council, will not take any major decisions, including functions relating to convening of selection committees and/or carrying out selection(s), concerning the Centres/special centres, it added.
The court clarified that the views are only prima facie and the single judge will decide the writ petition on merits, after hearing both sides.
Lawyer Abhik Chimni, representing the appellant, said that the exercise of power of appointment in the present case by the Vice Chancellor was null and void in law and the Executive Council could not have approved the same subsequently.
JNU counsel Monika Arora stated that the power to appoint chairpersons to various centres is exercised by the Vice Chancellor from time to time, which is subsequently ratified by the Executive Council.
She informed that the single judge has indicated that he would examine the aspect as to whether the Vice-Chancellor could at all initiate the process of appointment of Chairpersons to various Centres/Special Centres, under the provisions of the JNU statute.
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