New Delhi, Jan. 21: To prevent politicisation of educational institutions, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi has suggested including retired Supreme Court judges in search committees that recommend to the President names of candidates for the post of vice-chancellor in central universities.
The changes will affect 14 institutions, including Visva-Bharati, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Milia University, Aligarh Muslim University, Benaras Hindu University, Hyderabad University and Nagaland University. State universities will not be affected.
At present, the vice-chancellor of a central university is appointed by the President on the recommendation of a three-member search committee. One of them is the convener, whose name is usually recommended by the human resources development ministry. He is also the President’s nominee.
The two other members are either from the university’s executive council or its board of management.
The minister has suggested replacing the first member of the search committee with a retired Supreme Court judge, who will continue to be the President’s nominee. The other two members will remain the same.
Customarily, the President gives his assent to the first of the three names forwarded by the search committee of a university. The first name is the human resources development ministry’s choice.
Former President K.R. Narayanan, however, overturned this practice when he had to choose a vice-chancellor for Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The former President ignored the first name on the list, much to the relief of JNU academics who felt the candidate was a “BJP nominee”. Narayanan chose the third name on the search committee’s list.
Joshi has of late grasped every opportunity to retaliate against the Left’s allegation that he is “saffronising” educational posts by accusing it of appointing its sympathisers in Bengal’s educational institutions.
According to Joshi, the CPM in Bengal has left no stone unturned to fill vacancies in universities and colleges with its “own people”.
Although his recommendations will not be effective in Bengal’s two major institutions — Calcutta University and Jadavpur University — Joshi seems to believe that the change, if it comes through, will be an example to “depoliticise” the system of selecting vice-chancellors.