HC relief to Gujarat Vidyapith over UGC show-cause notice

The Gujarat High Court has given interim relief to the Gujarat Vidyapith from execution of a show-cause notice issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on April 25 asking why its Deemed-to-be-University status should not be withdrawn.

The high court on May 6 has ordered ad-interim relief to the university and issued notice to central government and UGC returnable on June 20,2022.

The relief came after the universtity challenged the show-cause notice dated 25.04.2022 issued by the Secretary of the UGC on the basis of the Internal Audit Report for the period between 01.04.2018 and 31.03.2021 at the instance of the Ministry of Education of the Union Government.

The order by the court of Justice Bhargav D Karia says, “It was submitted that the impugned show-cause notice is without jurisdiction as the UGC has no power to cancel the Deemed-to-be-University status which was granted under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956…”.

“It was submitted that in the impugned show-cause notice after recording the audit objections stated in the Audit Report, the Secretary of the UGC has called upon the petitioner to explain within a period of 21 days as to why the Deemed-to-be University status of the petitioner should not be withdrawn and meanwhile until the satisfactory explanation is provided by the petitioner the grant-in-aid is ordered to be stopped,” the order further states.

The Vidyapith submitted before the High Court that it has “already submitted parawise reply to the audit objections by email dated 18.04.2022”.

The High Court in its order further stated, “It was submitted that by the impugned show-cause notice the stoppage of grant-in-aid to the petitioner could not have been directed as such an action taken by the UGC contrary to the provisions of Act and the Regulations”.

Gujarat Vidyapith being a Deemed-to-be-University receives entire grants from the Centre and state government has no stake or funding.

Earlier on November 25, 2021, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had issued directives in it meeting held to remove Dr Rajendra Khimani as Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith “with immediate effect”, observing “procedural lapses” in his appointment.

On March 22, the High Court issued a notice to the commission directing it not to take any “coercive steps” to remove him.

The court’s notice came on a petition filed by Khimani seeking directions declaring the commission’s directive as “illegal”.

The UGC in its 554th meeting that was presided over by the former chairman Prof Dhirendra Pal Singh conducted on November 25, 2021 resolved that “failing to comply with the directions of the Commission would attract penal action in accordance with the UGC Act, 1956 and the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2019, including that of withholding of grants”.

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