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Rejoinder
AMU: Defending the indefensible

The interjection from otherwise busy Mr S. Shahabuddin, IFS (ex-MP) (MG dated 16-31 May, 2001) to the letter of Prof Ziauddin Ahmad (MG dated 1-15 May, 2001) on the unsatisfactory functioning of the Aligarh Muslim University, is an exercise to defend the erring and ill-intentioned, Vice-Chancellor, Mr Hamid Ansari, his junior in I.F.S.

In doing so, he has dragged the issue of minority status of the University, from nowhere. Prof Ahmad, nor any body else ever claimed that AMU enjoys the protection of the Article (30) of the constitution. All that referred was the section 5(2) (C) and 23(2) of the A.M.U. amendment act of 1981 and was pointed that the section 5(2) (C) continued to be misinterpreted to deprive the Muslim students in particular of benefits in admissions. Section 5(2) (C) reads to promote especially the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims of India; which abundantly provides for concessions in admissions. How and why this benefit could not be extended, to us (Mr Shahabuddin, is well aware all attempts were thwarted and a powerless defunct centre was created to sidetrack and mislead the masses which has not done anything worth the name in the last 20 years, as expected). So far as the section 23(2) and 3(C) is concerned (which empowers the court to consider the ordinances and review the illegal actions taken by Academic and Executive Councils, a type of internal remedy to the aggrieved) it was not implemented even once in the last 20 years, as no case was brought before the court for redressal, (hundreds of cases are pending before the various courts of law). Thus the AMU court is reduced to insignificance on this count also.

It may, however be understood that amendments to the A.M.U. Act, 1981; the new preamble, new section 5(2) (C) and declaration that the court is the Supreme Governing body with the already existing autonomy, a Muslim Vice-Chancellor and the glorious past of the university, are good enough provisions of law and history to meet the aspirations of the battered community, provided one is sincere and committed to our case, as mere legal provisions do not provide what is promised.

It is also totally erroneous to mention that ‘short term and adhoc steps were taken to benefit the community which in long run brought down standards.’ Whatever, damage ever caused was entirely because of the non-implementation of existing rules, for which the vice-chancellors are entirely responsible. It is also misleading to say that introduction of NET (under pressure from UGC) and changes in admission rules (rejected by the academic community, the staff Association) are steps to upgrade human material and to improve standards. Similarly, the stipulated introduction of an observer (Government nominee with veto powers) in the selection committees (for which the Vice-Chancellor is under severe pressure but the teachers are deadly opposed), is yet another design like NET to interfere and take control of appointments of teachers by the government and that surrendering to the arm-twisting by UGC and the government thus, shall be disastrous for the University, affecting directly its special status.

It is no secret (on the campus) that the Vice-Chancellor is also misusing and excessively using emergency power under section 19(3) as a routine and has done it hundreds of times in one year, including termination of services, constitution of selection committees and approving of recommendations of selection committees to make appointments and extending tenure of appointments of teachers etc., which do not fall in the purview of the section. Having so pleased and encouraged and being a non-believer in democratic functioning, has created history by not allowing discussion on the correctness of minutes (under confirmation of minutes) and reported actions taken under emergency power, which are, otherwise open for discussion. How can such a person who is uncommitted, more concerned with keeping the pay masters in Delhi in good humour, undemocratic and flouts rules at will, be persuaded, leave alone ‘coaxing and coercing’ him.

In the end, we must express our feelings of hurt and indignation to Mr Shahabuddin’s attempt to bail Mr Ansari out in his experienced and subtle way. It is very unfortunate that the higher echelons of our Millat prefer to side with serving Vice-Chancellors and never seen coming out in the open to cross sword with them in the interest of University, even in the worse of days of Prof Nasim Farooqui and Mr M. Rahman. This un-principled and personalized behaviour encouraged the wrongdoers, discouraging at the same time the teachers in particular, not to raise their voice loud and clear. Whatever, deterioration has set in the university over the years, this is the foremost contributory factor.
Alhaj Kr Hashmat Ali Khan
Sr Advocate, Distt. Collectorate
Prof A.K.M. Ghous
Aligarh (U.P.)

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