Facts of the Case
A PIL was filed praying to issue a Writ of Quo Warranto, stating that the appointment of one of the respondents as Vice-Chancellor was void since the very beginning at JNTU had violated the UGC Regulations of 2010 and 2018. As per a notice by the Government of Andhra Pradesh dated 14.12.2018, a Search Committee under the provisions of the A.P. Universities Act, 1991 was set up for selection and appointment of Vice-Chancellor of JNTU. However, the aforementioned Act was not applicable and JNTU was governed by the Search Committee under the provisions of the A.P. Universities Act, 1991, for selection and appointment of Vice-Chancellor of JNTU. However, the 1991 Act was not applicable and JNTU was governed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological Universities Act, 2008
The Petitioner had submitted that the JNTU was governed under Jawaharlal Nehru Technological Universities Act, 2008 and not the A.P. Universities Act. Further, it was stated that the UGC issued the UGC Regulations, 2018 for the issues related to the appointment of Vice-Chancellors of State and Central Universities. As per the Regulations, a member of the Search Committee should not be connected with the University. While the Nominee of the Government was intimately connected with the University, thereby, in violation of the UGC Regulations. Thus, it was submitted that the Search Committee constituted for selection of the Vice-Chancellor of the University was illegal. In support, the learned counsel of the Petitioner referred to the recent case of Prof. P. Muniratnam Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh and others in W.P. (PIL) No.12 of 2019 in which one of the Justice of the Bench was a member judge. Furthermore, the reference was PIL & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr. (2011) 4 SCC 1 and Kashi Nath Misra v. Chancellor, University of Allahabad AIR 1967 ALLAHABAD 101.
Grounds of Challenge
The appeal was challenged on the ground that the Petitioner had no capacity to file the PIL as there was no element of public interest and, therefore, the Writ Petition was liable to be dismissed in limine. Further, it was pointed out by the learned counsel of the Respondents that as per the JNTU Act, 2008, the High Court had no jurisdiction to remove the Vice-Chancellor and no document was placed by the Petitioner to establish that the State Government had adopted and implemented the UGC Regulations. Additionally, it was contended that the appointed Vice-Chancellor was eligible and qualified in all respects. It was also submitted that the PIL was submitted with “ill motive”. Furthermore, the learned counsel of the appointed Vice-Chancellor (one of the respondents) had relied upon:
Bholanath Mukherjee and others v. Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Centenary College and others, (2011) 5 SCC 464, and Smt. Shaik Sana and another v. State of A.P., rep. by its Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration Department, Guntur, and others 2019 (4) ALT 287 (DB) (AP).
Under the PIL, the Petitioner had prayed to issue a Writ in nature of Quo Warranto on the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor at JNTU.
The two-judge bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court had discussed the reference made to the aforementioned case laws individually. The court observed that the autonomy and independent functioning of the University was of utmost importance. The court believed that the matter of appointment of the Vice-Chancellor was a matter of public importance. Further, the Petitioner was credible to espouse the cause in the PIL and, therefore, the PIL was maintainable.
The Court had allowed the Petition saying that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor based on the recommendation of the incompetent Selection committee could not be sustained in law. Further, it was directed that the State-Respondents should take appropriate steps for appointment to the post of Vice-Chancellor following the law.
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