The government of Maharashtra last year repealed the proposed amendments to the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016. The changes limited the governor’s power to appoint vice chancellors for the universities. Under the proposal, the names of the VC candidates would be recommended to the governor by a government-appointed selection committee. Although the amending bill was passed in the state legislature, it has yet to win a nod from the governor, Free Press Journal reported.
The state’s minister of higher and technical education was to be appointed pro-chancellor of universities as part of the amendment approved by the state legislature during the winter session of 2021. The bill also allowed the government to appoint members of the university senate and the governing council. Furthermore, the pro-chancellor was given the power to seek all information related to the academic and administrative affairs of the institution.
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“The bill had amended Articles 11 and 13 of the Public Universities Act. Students, teachers and citizens alike had requested the Governor not to sign it. Some parts of the bill went against UGC rules. As a result, the governor reserved the bill to be referred to the president,” the CM’s Office reported.
According to a leading daily, the government panel would propose five candidates for the post of vice chancellor under the changes. Of those nominees, the government will recommend two to the governor, who is also chancellor of state universities. Then, within 30 days, the governor had to choose one of two candidates for the position of vice chancellor.
According to a former vice chancellor who was a member of one of the committees that drafted the 2016 law, the government conducted a thorough analysis before drafting the law and its provisions. Therefore, the changes proposed last year threatened the autonomy of public universities.
A group of experts led by former UGC chairman Sukhdev Thorat made recommendations that led to the changes. The panel was created to make changes to the law that should enable effective implementation of national education policy.
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Earlier, the cabinet of West Bengal had approved the proposal to appoint the prime minister as chancellor of the state universities. Under the current system followed across the country, the governor is appointed as the chancellor of state-run universities. Now Bengal wants Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee to take that place. The state government will have to pass a bill in the General Assembly and amend the current law and the governor must give his approval before it becomes law.
The government led by MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu has also curtailed Governor RN Ravi’s power to appoint vice chancellor of universities in the state. The DMK government has passed three bills to prevent the governor from electing vice chancellors to state universities. The first two bills were passed, replacing the phrase “chancellor” with “government” on April 25. VC.
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