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Enquiry has already cost AMU Rs 50 lakh!

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An article has appeared in an Urdu daily newspaper written by a sitting MP, who was defeated in the election for membership of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Court, in which he has levelled baseless allegations against professor P.K. Abdul Azis, the Vice-Chancellor of the AMU. He has alleged that the former enquiry committee consisting of Justice Fakhruddin as chairman and Mr. Akbar Jung as the member could not function due to the non-coopertion by the Vice-Chancellor. This allegation is false as they had resigned because of differences between them. The said enquiry was going on well and it had held many sittings in Delhi and in Aligarh.

It is important to note that Justice Fakhruddin did not claim any remuneration for conducting the said enquiry though he visited Aligarh several times with his staff using his own car. He even refused to accept the hospitality of the University in Aligarh.

About the present enquiry committee consisting of Justice B.A. Khan, former chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court the chairman and Justice A.N. Diveecha, former judge of the Gujarat High Court, it has been alleged in the said article that the Vice-Chancellor of the AMU is trying to prolong the enquiry so that his remaining term as the V.C. is over and he does not face the report of the enquiry, if it goes against him. He has also alleged that a large sum of money has been spent on the enquiry by the Vice-Chancellor.

So far as prolonging the enquiry is concerned, the chairman and the member of the committee are very honest, hard-working, impartial and experienced judges. They cannot and have not extended the date of enquiry without a valid reason. They have been holding the proceedings of the enquiry very effectively. As the enquiry committee has summoned voluminous records from the university, for which some time was needed, the university counsel moved an application for postponing the hearing so that all the summoned original records could be produced. A request had earlier been made that the sitting of the committee be held in Aligarh so that the records could be produced before the committee conveniently and without risk because bringing original documents to Delhi could be a risk as something may happen in the way and also because it required more staff. But this request of the university was not accepted. It is a general practice in the courts that for production of documents having bearing on the merit of the case and for a proper adjudication, a reasonable time is generally granted. And this was for the first time that the university counsel sought time. the VC Professor P.K. Abdul Azis has nothing to do with it. In fact, he wants the enquiry to conclude at the earliest so that the real truth comes out. In her order for enquiry, the President of India, in her capacity as the visitor of the AMU, had directed the university to meet all the expenses of the enquiry and allowed the chairman and the member to fix their remuneration. So far an amount of more than Rs 50 lakh has been spent on the enquiry though the allegation relates to the claim of TA of about rupees 1.5 lakh only. The hon’ble judges of the enquiry committee have fixed their remuneration at par with the salary they were drawing when they were sitting judges. Apart from this, the AMU has to bear other expenses like office, air tickets for justice Diveecha from Gujarat to Delhi and back, his stay in a decent hotel, his food etc. The university pays fees to its counsel and rest of the amount was spent on the enquiry committee which has the approval of the HRD ministry. it is a gross injustice to allege that VC is spending extravagantly on the enquiry. The university has no choice on this score and it is bound to comply with the order of the visitor, HRD ministry and the enquiry committee.

It is said that justice hurried is justice buried. The enquiry committee cannot be expected to deny the opportunity of being heard reasonably as that would amount to violation of the principle of natural justice. The scope of the enquiry is very wide. It is not humanly possible to conclude it within a short period, otherwise it will be a case of justice hurried is justice buried. But it does not mean that justice should be delayed.

It may be stated here that the terms of reference of this fact-finding enquiry committee are to cover a period of two decades about the conduct of those who complained to the visitor against the V.C. In fact, the present enquiry is a double-edged sword. As the V.C. is in the dock so are the complainants as one of them has allegedly manipulated his date of birth etc.

On the submission of the 23 counter complaints, the enquiry committee sought a clarification from the HRD ministry whether the terms of enquiry include enquiry against the eight complainants, the HRD ministry without sending it to the visitor sent its own manipulated clarification that enquiry against complainants shall cover the period when the V.C. entered his office. The ministry has no power and jurisdiction to change the terms of reference diluting enquiry against the complainants who had committed many acts of omission and commission. The dilution of the reference has been illegally done by some partisan officers of the ministry at the instance of one of the complainants who is an ex-M.P. and at the instance of another sitting MP who has made several allegations against the V.C. If the clarificatory order of the ministry is challenged, it is sure to be set aside.

The enquiry must be reasonably conducted against both the V.C. and the complainants. The community has a right to know the truth about the allegations against both. One who seeks enquiry must come with clean hands. It is for the complainants to prove that they have got the enquiry instructed with clean hands and not with malafide intentions.


Mushtaq Ahmad is Advocate, Supreme Court of India

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2011 on page no. 1

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