Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court, on Tuesday, overruled the appointment of a junior faculty as the chief for the Centre for Women's Studies at the University of Hyderabad, Gachibowli.
A writ petition, filed by professor Suneetha Rani of the Centre for Women's Studies, alleged that the appointment of an associate professor, who was on probation, as the head, by the university's administration on 30 June last year is illegal and arbitrary and contrary to Statute 7 (1) of the University of Hyderabad Act, 1974.
As per Statute 7 (1), which deals with 'heads of departments/centres', each department/centre shall have a head who shall be a professor and whose duties, functions and terms and conditions of appointment shall be prescribed by the ordinances; provided that if there is one or more than one professor in any department/centre, the head of the department/centre shall be appointed in the manner prescribed by the ordinances; provided further that in a department/centre where there is no professor, an associate professor shall be appointed as head of the department/centre in the manner prescribed by the ordinances.
In her petition, Prof Suneetha Rani said that she is the senior-most professor at the centre and she is fully eligible and qualified to be made chief of the centre.
Countering the writ petition, the university's counsel argued in the court that the Center for Women's Studies is not part of the university and is just a centre in the campus receiving financial assistance from the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The counsel also argued that for establishing any department or centre at the university, statutes are to be amended and for amending the statutes, the assent of the visitor has to be obtained. But in this case, no such assent was obtained by the visitor, and the Centre for Women's Studies is not a part of the University. "As long as statutes are not amended in accordance with Section 25 of the Universities Act, the Centre for Women's Studies can never be made part of University. The Centre for Women's Studies is functioning as a standalone centre with the financial assistance of the UGC," contended the university's counsel.
The court, in its order, said that it is not able to understand why the university is trying to violate the University Executive Council's decision by appointing an associate professor as head of the centre. Except for contending that the Centre for Women's Studies is not a regular wing of the University, no other argument was advanced by the counsel for the university as to why an associate professor was preferred while ignoring the petitioner who has the cadre of a professor.
"Statute 7 clearly says that an associate professor can be appointed as the head only when a professor declines the post, but that is not in this present case," said the court.
After the judgement was passed, the University of Hyderabad Teachers' Association demanded that the university honour the ruling and implement it immediately. "As per the judgement of the High Court of Telangana, Prof Suneetha Rani should be immediately appointed as the Head for the Centre for Women's Studies. The university should not stretch the litigation further as the ruling is quite clear and logical in its conclusion," said the UHTA statement.
It also said that the university is not supposed to spend money on legal disputes unnecessarily and suggested that it is best if the administration does not violate the mandatory provisions given in the statutes of the university in the future.
The Teachers' Association also added that they have received a similar complaint regarding violation of seniority in the School of Medical Sciences. Treating this judgement as a strong precedent, UHTA demands that the senior-most professor of the School of Medical Sciences should be made the Dean.