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A head to an institution is mandatory

A head to an institution is mandatory
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A Head to An Institution is Mandatory. The academic scenario for aspiring young engineering students in Telangana is in a mess. Actually a royal mess....

The academic scenario for aspiring young engineering students in Telangana is in a mess. Actually a royal mess. The new government, among the many challenges before it, for a strange and surely inexplicable reason, went about corrective action in this field even before it could get its house in order politically. There is no doubt that the government should prioritise its cleansing exercise. The law recognises it, the system grants it. At best the target regrets it.

When in a coup of sorts 175 engineering colleges were not granted recognition for the present academic year, the managements went before the high court. It was argued that the midnight coup was a gross violation of the exercise of power. Being a witness to the happenings, I had the advantage of a ring side view. Stalwarts at the bar including Prakash Reddy, DV Sitaram Murthy, Raghunandan Rao, Niranjan Reddy and S Sriram, were at their articulate best- as was the State’s Advocate General K Ramakrishna Reddy in his new avatar of arguing for the government. The latter appearing for the university often erased the thin dividing line between the role of the government and that of the university. He reiterated with every word at his command that the institutions were not up to the standard prescribed and as the guardian angel of high standards, the new government would not wink at the inadequacies.

Among the factors of violation pointed out to the court, the Advocate General pointed out with great emphasis that many of the institutions did not have the prescribed faculty and this would reflect poorly on the academics.

“Why do some institutions not even have a principal as approved by the university?” the Advocate General questioned with thumping effect. It is a moot point as to what overall effect the said argument had in the march of the matter. However with the apex court requiring the authorities to give the institutions a fresh look, the exercise is of just academic interest. It however raises another important issue that requires immediate attention. If it be the argument (and if I dare add, rightly) that the institution without a head, is of serious consequence than news that the JNTU does not have a vice chancellor, is indeed a very disturbing factor. What is sauce for the goslings is sauce for the gander. How come we apply different standards for others and liberal standards for ourselves? Where comes the justification for such unacceptable dichotomy? The origin of such arrogance is non statutory.

It is not an isolated instance that we find that the university is without a Vice-Chancellor. How is it that the establishment which is empowered with the statutory duty to appoint a VC fails to do so? Is it not paradoxical that the government that pulls up a private college for not appointing a principal is found not having taken steps to appoint a VC? Moral authority apart, it reflects very poorly on the principle of the Rule of Law.

A statutory authority is the child of legislation. To not find one to exercise specific powers under a statute is a fraud on such legislation and is thus impermissible. A State that requires various other persons to follow it strictly, must do so itself. It cannot be again said that the authority is above the law and those it administers are bound by the law. Law frowns at such schizophrenia. It is not just about having a VC at a University. He performs more than cutting ribbons and pontifies on issues. He has statutory duties. The statute functions with him as an important fulcrum. To avoid or fail to make the stated appointment is an act of violating the law. An acting VC who is a bureaucrat is a poor substitute to the grandeur associated with the office in the text and structure of the enactment. Those who are eager to see a clean neighbourhood would do well to keep their house in order.

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