According to a decision handed down by the Supreme Court, the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor to a university will be deemed unlawful if the Search Committee only recommends a single candidate rather than a panel of between three and five candidates, as is required by the University Grants Commission Regulations 2013.
The appointment of Rajasree M.S. as the Vice-Chancellor of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam University was overturned by a bench consisting of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar. The bench came to the conclusion that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor would be “void-abinitio” if it had not been carried out in accordance with the UGC Regulation.
In reaching this conclusion, the highest court decided that even if an amendment to the UGC Regulations had not been specifically accepted by a State, the amendment would still have binding force with regard to the relevant field in which it operated. This conclusion was reached after the court held that an amendment to the UGC Regulations would have binding force even if it had not been specifically accepted by a State. The argument that the legislation of the state would take precedence in such a scenario was therefore harshly rejected by the court, which based its ruling on the paramountcy of central laws in accordance with Article 254 of the Constitution.
Nevertheless, in this particular instance, the Court observed that the UGC Regulations had been implemented by the Government in accordance with an order dated December 10, 2010. According to the aforementioned Government Order, educational institutions are required to write the UGC laws into their governing documents, including their statutes and rules.
This decision was made in response to an appeal that had been lodged against the Kerala High Court, which had earlier declined to grant a writ of quo warranto in order to void the appointment. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Kalyanji Mathivanan v. K.V. Jeyaraj and Others was cited by the High Court in its decision. In that case, the Supreme Court declared that the UGC regulations will not be binding on States until the State specifically adopts them.
The questions that needed to be answered were whether or not the appointment ought to be in compliance with the UGC Regulations or the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act 2015, which had been enacted by the State legislature in 2015, and whether or not the search committee that was constituted to recommend Rajasree as the Vice-Chancellor was a “duly constituted” one. The questions that needed to be answered were referred to as the “fallen for determination” questions.
The court answered the second question by noting that the UGC Regulations and the University Act of 2015 required the search committee to suggest at least three qualified candidates for the position of Vice-Chancellor, and the Chancellor was responsible for selecting one of those candidates. The court then went on to state that the Chancellor would make the final decision. However, in this instance, the committee had only suggested Rajasree’s name, which is why the Chancellor “had no option to consider the names of the other applicants.” The committee had only suggested Rajasree because she was the only candidate whose name had been suggested.
Even though Section 13(4) of the University Act of 2015 requires it, the Committee is responsible for recommending unanimously a panel of not less than three suitable persons from among the eminent persons working in the field of engineering sciences. This panel will then be presented to the Visitor/Chancellor.