They have asked that the decision either be overturned or the matter referred to the Chancellor.
Three professors of Delhi University’s Department of Political Science have written to the Acting Vice-Chancellor saying the appointment of the Head of the Department (HoD) had been done in “violation of the seniority principle”. They have asked that the decision either be overturned or the matter referred to the Chancellor.
The Indian Express had reported on June 5 that the appointment of Sangit Kumar Ragi as HoD had raised eyebrows both within and outside the department. Ragi had to be appointed after Former HoD Veena Kukreja died of post-Covid complications on May 14.
In her place, Rekha Saxena was made the Officiating HoD. However, on June 4, Registrar Vikas Gupta issued a notification appointing Ragi as the HoD “with immediate effect for three years”.
Saxena, supposedly first in line for the position, followed by professors Ashok Acharya and Madhulika Banerjee, wrote to Acting V-C P C Joshi on June 21 against the decision.
“We are duty bound to draw your kind attention towards the fact that the appointment of Prof Sangit Kumar Ragi as the Head of the Department of Political Science is in violation of the seniority principle to the best of our understanding… This representation is not against any individual, as we continue to work in a spirit of collegiality, but seeks to underline a point of principle that can have far-reaching impact for the Department and indeed, for the university,” they wrote.
The letter was also marked to Registrar Vikas Gupta, and submitted to the DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA).
They said Saxena was appointed Professor on August 23, 2010, Acharya on October 29, 2010, and Banerjee on December 22, 2010, all through promotion, whereas Ragi was appointed Professor by direct recruitment in 2014.
“The seniority of the signatories to this petition has never been disputed and even reflected on the website of the University which clearly shows that the three Professors are senior to Prof. Ragi,” they wrote.
“This appointment also runs in contravention of the 2018 gazette notification of the UGC norms and the mandatory directions made by the UGC, in relation to the ascertainment of seniority, vide notification dated July 18, 2018,” the trio wrote.
Clause 1 of Ordinance XXIII of the notification states that “the Head of the Department shall be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor by observing, as far as possible, the principle of rotation.” It also states that seniority will be the basis of rotation.
They said the decision was “arbitrary and unjustified” and has “set a wrong precedent” in the university, and requested the V-C to “either correct the patently erroneous decision” or “refer this issue to the Hon’ble Chancellor of the University”.
Registrar Vikas Gupta had earlier claimed Ragi was the senior-most. “There was a decision in the EC (Executive Council) on how to determine seniority between a direct recruitee and promotee. In this case, the direct recruitees joined on November 3, 2014, and their recommendation was approved by the then VC on November 1, 2014. In the case of the promotees, the recommendation of the Selection Committee was approved by the then VC on November 7, 2014. So we determine seniority from the date of approval of the VC or the EC, which makes the direct recruitee senior in this case,” he had told The Indian Express.
Acharya said there had been no response to the letter by the V-C yet. Saxena said that going by the current rules, her “head-ship will come after nine years” and by the time she becomes Head, “the other two colleagues would have already retired”.
“In the larger good of not only all the departments but also the University per se, University of Delhi administration must look into this matter and come up with some clarity. Long established seniority rules must be followed to set valid precedent for times to come,” she said.
DUTA President Rajib Ray said, “We had a meeting of the office-bearers yesterday. We will be writing tomorrow morning, but we are not siding with one or the other. The problem is not new, it has been happening in department after department for many years because of the interpretation of rules. But straight cut rules need to come up,” he said. Acting V-C P C Joshi reiterated that the headship had been given to the senior-most teacher. “Anybody can make any complaint, which is fine. But we have followed the principle of seniority,” he said.
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