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Politics and Academics: Punjab Governor wants newly appointed VC of PAU removed

After Baba Farid University it is PAU now

The growing rift between Punjab Raj Bhavan and the AAP Government is refusing to abate. Appointment of a new Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University has stirred yet another debate.

Does the Governor, as Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, have the power to appoint or remove the Vice-Chancellor? Or is the Board of Management of PAU empowered to select and appoint a new Vice-Chancellor?

The AAP Government had appointed noted farm scientist, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, as  Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University. The post had been lying vacant for almost a year.

Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit in a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann on Tuesday asked him to remove Dr Gosal as his appointment as Vice-Chancellor was made “without following UGC norms and approval of the Chancellor. This act of the Government of Punjab is totally illegal and cannot be accepted by any logic.

Since Dr Satbir Singh Gosal has already been appointed Vice-Chancellor, the Governor further said in his letter that “you are requested to remove the said Vice Chancellor, which has been illegally appointed, without any further delay. The Vice-Chancellor of PAU may be handed over to the Administrative Secretary of the Agriculture Department till the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor. You are also requested to instruct your concerned department to initiate the process of the appointment of the new Vice Chancellor. I hope you will realise the seriousness of the issue and take corrective measures immediately in the right spirit,” the letter said.

The letter, seen as a spat between Raj Bhavan and Bhagwant Mann government, has stunned the academic word. After Dr GS Wander, now is the turn of Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, to land in a hot spot without any provocation or reason on their part.

There has been a strong support building up for eminent academicians in this ongoing rift between Governor and Chief Minister. Why victimise academicians in this unfortunate growing rift?, is the question being asked in the academic circles.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal on Tuesday defended the appointment of Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal as Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). At a media interaction, he assailed the Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit for interfering in the Punjab government’s functioning.

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said  the orders of Punjab governor challenging appointment of PAU V-C were ‘illegal’  as the appointment was made after following all the norms.
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He asked the Governor to seek a public apology at once for this unconstitutional action. The AAP government would not tolerate any interference in its work.

Dhaliwal said the PAU comes under the Haryana and Punjab Agriculture University Act 1970 and it does not come under the purview  of the UGC.
Before sending the letter to the Chief Minister, the Governor should have read the University Act. Even if the Governor feels that appointment was. ‘illegal’  then he should clarify why the post of VC of PAU had been lying vacant for one year.

The AAP government followed the legal process by shortlisting  three names that were forwarded to the PAU Board. The board at its meeting held under Chief Secretary made the appointment, he added asking the  Governor to immediately withdraw his letter sent to the state government.

Meanwhile, the chief spokesperson of AAP, Punjab, Malvinder Singh Kang, also assailed the Governor’s action by quoting  Section 15A of the Punjab and Haryana Agriculture Act 1970. It gives the authority to appoint the VC of Punjab Agriculture University  to the Board of Management of the University and not to the Governor. The Board of Management does not require any permission from the Chancellor (Governor) to appoint a VC. The Governor can neither appoint nor remove the VC of PAU, Kang said.

Kang went a step further saying if the governor wants to do politics, then should officially contest the elections on the BJP symbol. Do not disrespect the dignity of the post of Governor. Kang appealed to the President of India that the Punjab Governor is acting as a political agent of the BJP, so he should be sacked immediately.

Prabhjot Singh
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