Delhi HC dismisses plea against Jamia VC Najma Akhtar’s appointment

 The Delhi High Court on Thursday rejected a plea against the appointment of Jamia Millia Islamia’s current vice chancellor Najma Akhtar to the post.

A bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh dismissed the appeal challenging an order of a single judge on March 5, 2021, that junked a petition challenging the decision to appoint Akhtar as VC of the JMI.

The petition as well as the appeal was filed by M Ethesham-Ul-Haque, an alumnus of the Faculty of Law at the JMI, who claimed the appointment was done in violation of regulations issued by the UGC and JMI Act.

The division bench of the high court had earlier issued notices to the Centre, Central Vigilance Commission, JMI, University Grants Commission (UGC), and Akhtar on the petition.

Advocates Mobashshir Sarwar and M J Shaikh, representing the appellant Haque, had earlier claimed that the entire process culminating in the appointment of Akhtar is a colourable exercise of power and in flagrant violation and total non-compliance with the statutory provisions of the JMI Act.

“The single judge failed to appreciate that the very process followed by the search committee seems to have delegated critical and fundamental aspect of gauging the suitability’ and eligibility’ of a candidate vis- -vis vigilance clearance available with the said candidate,” the appeal filed before the court had said.

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The single judge, in the order, said the petitioner has not been able to show that any express provision of either the UGC Regulations or the JMI Act has been flouted while making the appointment of Akhtar as the VC of the university.

It highlighted the position of law that the court cannot sit in appeal over the decision taken by the search committee, set up to select prospective candidates for the post.

“The appointment of respondent no.2 (Akhtar) is justified. I do not see any merit in the petition. The petition is dismissed,” the single judge had said.

The petitioner had alleged that Akhtar’s appointment was invalid for the reasons that the search committee was constituted illegally and that she had been denied CVC clearance initially.

The denial of clearance was revoked after the Ministry of Education’s intervention, the petition alleged.

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