The HRD Ministry is learnt to have sought informal legal advice on who should act as the University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman in the wake of the six-month delay in appointing a full-time chief. Ved Prakash retired as the UGC chairman on April 3, following which Commission member V S Chauhan has been the officiating head.
As per UGC Act, 1956, the vice-chairman takes charge as chairman in case of a “casual vacancy”. Since the vice-chairman’s post is also vacant, the law provides that the government can “appoint any other member to act as the Chairman, and the person so appointed shall not hold the office of Chairman for a period exceeding six months.”
Going by this provision, Chauhan cannot officiate as the Commission’s head beyond October 4 (Wednesday).
Although the search-cum-selection committee (SCSC) led by yoga therapist H R Nagendra had sent a panel of five names for the post NAAC chairman D P Singh, former vice-chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University A D N Bajpai, and Prof A K Singh of IGNOU among them . The ministry has not forwarded the shortlist to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet for the final appointment.
The SCSC also has former Lucknow University vice-chancellor D P Singh and former head of Saurashtra University K P Joshipura as members.
Faced with the October 4 deadline, and with the Act being silent on who should take charge beyond six months, the ministry is learnt to have sought an “informal legal opinion” on who it should appoint as the acting chairman until it finds Chauhan’s successor. According to sources, the ministry will have to take a call this week.