Tasked with the plan of restructuring the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is causing delay in the appointments of chairman and vice-chairman for the UGC, sources in the UGC have alleged. Both posts have been lying vacant for the past six months. Earlier, the MHRD had decided to fill both the posts of chairman and vice-chairman, for which the ministry had even formed two separate committees after the retirement of the then UGC chairman Ved Prakash in April this year, but nothing has happened after that, a UGC source told The Sunday Guardian. A section of Delhi University (DU) teachers has alleged that the MHRD was violating UGC rules laid down for the functioning of the UGC. Even after the term of interim chairperson Professor V.S. Chauhan got over on 4 October 2017, he was given an extension, which is against UGC rules, say teachers.

Professor Chauhan was appointed as officiating chairman on 4 April 2017 when the tenure of Ved Prakash ended.

“Appointment of the officiating chairman should be for a term of six months and not more than that. According to the UGC Act, 1956, a chairman should be appointed before the term of the officiating chairman ends. Till then, the vice-chairman will act as a chairman, but currently even the vice chairman’s post is vacant,” a former UGC member said. Defending the reappointment of V.S. Chauhan as an officiating chairman, a current UGC member said on the condition of anonymity: “The delay in appointment of the UGC chairman is not a good practice, but the reappointment of V.S. Chauhan as officiating chairman is not violating UGC rules.”

“The MHRD is contemplating several changes in the structure of the UGC and I think that may be the reason for the delay in appointments of top UGC officials,” the current UGC member quoted earlier said.

“Universities across the country are being run so that even the posts of top UGC officials are lying vacant for a long time. It is unfortunate that the MHRD has failed to find a competent academician who can head the universities’ regulatory body. The officiating chairman has certain restriction in terms of functioning and avoids taking many decisions related to day-to-day matters due to his ad-hoc tenure,” a DU professor said on the promise of anonymity. 

The Sunday Guardian has learnt that the search-cum-selection committee (SCSC), led by yoga instructor H.R. Nagendra, that was formed to look into the matter of appointment of UGC chairperson, had already shortlisted four names for the appointment and submitted the names to HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar in June, but nothing has happened after that.

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