Panel to screen applicants for PTU Vice-Chancellor post was not as per norms: Punjab governor

As per UGC, the members of the search-cum-selection committee shall be persons of eminence in the sphere of higher education.


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Punjab Technical University (Source: Official Website)Punjab Technical University (Source: Official Website)

Press Trust of India | June 22, 2023 | 07:38 AM IST

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday said the committee set up by the state government to screen applicants for the post of vice-chancellor of the Punjab Technical University was not as per UGC norms. The governor said he approved the appointment of Susheel Mittal as the vice-chancellor of the IK Gujral Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, out of a panel of three names forwarded to him by the government, keeping in mind the interests of the university which has been without a head for two years.

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"Three names were sent to me and I chose who I thought was the best of the lot," Purohit said. The governor has been at loggerheads with the AAP government in Punjab over several issues, including the appointment of some vice-chancellors. "In the PTU case, I was told a search committee was formed as per UGC norms. Luckily, when I saw the file, there was nothing about UGC norms. The chief secretary is one of the members, the second member was an additional chief secretary.

One UGC member was taken, but he was not informed," the governor told reporters here. He said an advertisement was published by the government in newspapers and 40 applications were received for the VC's post "but no one was called for an interview. They picked three names and sent them to me". "For two years, the university did not have a vice-chancellor. What would I have done at this stage? If I had sent it back, it would have meant that the thing (appointment of the VC) would go on to linger for another year to a year-and-a-half," Purohit said. "So, I selected one out of the panel of three," he added.

As per the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, the governor pointed out, the members of the search-cum-selection committee shall be persons of eminence in the sphere of higher education "but in the present case, it is found to have been violated". "This is the noting I have recorded in the file," he added. "I also wrote on the file that keeping in view the larger interest of students and the fact that the university has been without a regular vice-chancellor for about two years, I am approving the name of Dr Mittal," the governor said. "I further wrote that in the future, please ask the department to follow the UGC guidelines while appointing vice-chancellors to universities," he added.

The chief secretary and the additional chief secretary cannot be persons of eminence in higher education, Purohit said. He said some people raked up an issue that he had approved the appointment of a person from a science background, but "it is not an issue in the present case". Meanwhile, senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema said Governor Purohit "has made shocking disclosures". "It has now become clear that the screening committee constituted by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to screen applicants for the post of the vice-chancellor of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) was not constituted as per UGC norms. The governor has also disclosed that even though 40 applicants had applied for the post, they were not called for an interview," he said.

Cheema added that an independent probe was needed into the lapses so that due action can be taken against those guilty. The SAD leader also targeted the AAP government, saying, "The confrontational policy being followed by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann with the constitutional head of the state – the Governor – would have dangerous repercussions for the state and its people."

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