UGC Regulations Are Enough To Consider for Appointment of Principal in College: Delhi High Court

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The fact of the Case

This case deals with the recruitment of the post of Principal in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. The college had issued an advertisement on April 27, 2017, for the same. The Governing Body of the College appointed Dr. Rajiv Chopra as the permanent Principal of the College. The petitioner applied for the post and she fulfilled the eligibility requirements under Ordinance XVII (7). The Apex Committee selected one Dr. Anju Gupta who challenged the appointment of Dr. Rajiv Chopra as the Principal. The Apex Committee of the University is the higher and final authority for the selection of the Principal. However, the University later took a stand that Dr. Chopra is repatriated to his parent College Sri Aurobindo College. Then the post of the Vice-Principal fell vacant for which as per the Regulation, the Governing Body decided to appoint the senior-most teacher as the Principal for a temporary basis. Although the petitioner was called upon and got appointed as the Principal of the College by the College authority considering the seniority list, Dr. Basra the respondent no. 3 in the present case emailed the authority and University Chairman stating that Dr. Basra is the senior-most teacher as per the seniority list produced by the College teachers. Moreover, one day in the absence of the petitioner, the locks of her office had been changed and the office had been overtaken by Dr. Basra as she had been appointed as the Principal by the Governing Body. When the petitioner called the police they refused to take any action and also, the petitioner complained to the Governing Body of the College and the University representative of the College but no action was taken. Hence the petitioner filed the present case which is read with another petition filed regarding the same case.

Petitioner’s prayers

Petitioner in the present case prays to the court to issue mandamus or any other writ petition directing the respondents, i.e., respondent no. 2 to quash the order dated 16.12.2020 for the appointment of Respondent no. 3 who is the Acting Principal of the Respondent no. 2 namely Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. Also, the prayer extends to restraining the removal order of the petitioner from the post of Officiating Principal in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce.

Petitioner’s submissions

The petitioner joined the College as an Assistant Professor in the year 1999. She is qualified as an M. Phil and Ph.D. in Mathematics and Dr. Basra is the respondent no. 3 in this present case was an Associate Professor with the College, respondent no. 2 in the present case. The petitioner’s stand is that when the post of the Vice-Principal fell vacant in the College, the senior-most teacher was to be appointed as Principal. The senior-most-teacher fulfills the minimum eligibility. However, Dr. Basra whom the post had been appointed does not fulfill the qualification required for the post of the Principal. Although the University representative of the Governing Body issued a seniority list dated May 24, 2020, and called upon the petitioner to take charge as acting Principal of the College, respondent no. 3 forcefully took over the acting Principal of College in the absence of the petitioner. Moreover, the petitioner dialed 100 and called the police but the police refused to help, saying that it is an internal matter of the College. Further, the petitioner states that despite informing about the same to the Dean of the colleges the university took no action. Also, the learned counsel for the petitioner has stated that respondent no. 3 is not eligible for the post as she never applied for the post and the college being the respondent no. 2 took no approval of the university, i.e., respondent no. 1 in this case. According to him, for being eligible for the post of Principal a teacher should be minimum qualified apart from being the senior-most. He also relied upon the cases of the University of Delhi v. Amarnath Jha, LPA 694/2016 and Governing Body Swami Sraddhanand College. v. Amarnath Jha and Ors. 2020 (2) SCC 761 etc.

Respondent’s submissions

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Respondent no. 2 submits that due to the vacant post of the Vice-Principal in the college the university registrar, the University of Delhi issued a letter directing that as a temporary arrangement the charge of the Principal to be handed over to the senior-most teacher who is minimum qualified and fulfills the minimum criterion for appointment as the Principal of College. The order mentioned that the appointment is temporary till further orders are regulated by the University. However, it was Dr. Basra who is admittedly the senior most-teacher in the college and a senior to petitioner according to the seniority list of the College teachers. After Dr. Basra emailed the chairman of the Governing Body of the College they re-examined the list and criterion and decided that Dr. Basra was senior to the petitioner and asked Dr. Basra, the respondent no. 3 to join as Principal of the College. Also, Mr. Anand, the counsel of respondent no. 2 submits that the petitioner in the present case was not serving in the interest of the post of the Principal as she started taking new courses without any approval of UGC. He states the petition is infructuous.

Court’s observations

The selection for the Principal’s post has to be as per the recommendation of the Selection Committee referring to the Regulations of the UGC and not as per the Ordinance of the University. Hence overlooking the Apex Court’s decision on staying on the decision of Dr. Rajiv Chopra’s appointment as a permanent Principal was rightly justified. The decision had been taken in the view of the Regulations of the UGC hence on that basis the Court does not see any illegality in that decision. Therefore, the challenge in this petition regarding Dr. Basra’s acting as Principal will not survive.

Court’s decision

The writ petition is dismissed as infructuous. However, Dr. Rajiv Chopra’s appointment as the permanent Principal is upheld by this Court.

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