The Allahabad High Court has directed the Registrar of Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University (UPRTOU) in Phaphamau, Prayagraj to appear before it on September 14 with an explanation as to why heavy damages should not be imposed on him and disciplinary action not be recommended against him for harassing a girl student and not allowing her to take up two different courses simultaneously.
A Single Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot passed this order on Thursday, while hearing a petition filed by one Unnati.
Earlier on September 7, the Court had permitted the Counsel for the petitioner to implead the Vice Chancellor of the University as co-respondent no 6 in the array of parties during the course of the day.
In this case, the petitioner got enrolled in Ph.D. programme run by Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti Language University, Lucknow, in the academic sessions 2018-2019.
The petitioner, with a view to expand her horizons, also enrolled herself in the M.A. (Home Science) course being run by the respondent-Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University, in the academic year 2019-20.
According to the petitioner, she is entitled to continue both the academic programmes simultaneously in view of relevant UGC guidelines, as well as the circulars of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The petitioner also made a formal application for grant of permission to take the aforesaid M.A. (Home Science) examination. A letter was sent to the Vice Chancellor, UPRTOU.
According to the petitioner, no reply was forthcoming from the aforesaid University authorities and subsequently, she could not appear in examination.
It is clear that the UPRTOU Registrar has failed to give a categorical answer to the very legitimate query raised by the petitioner, noted the Court.
It is evident that either the Registrar wants to shirk his duties or is unable to take decisions. In both the cases, it does not augur well for the future of the University as well as the students. The UPRTOU Vice Chancellor is liable to take cognisance of this fact, the Court observed.
The Bench said at the request of Shashi Prakash Rai, Counsel for the University, additional time is being given to the UPRTOU Registrar, to explain his failure to pass a categorical order on the request made by the petitioner as per law.
Rijwan Ali Akhtar, Counsel for the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, submitted that the petitioner is entitled to continue the aforesaid courses simultaneously in view of the relevant UGC guidelines.
The Bench noted that on September 9, when the matter was taken up, the Counsel for the University failed to produce the order, which the UPRTOU Registrar was required to pass in compliance of orders of this Court.
The affidavit has been filed on behalf of the respondents and the same does not disclose satisfactory reasons for failure to decide the application of the petitioner, said the bench.
Ashok Khare, Senior Counsel for the respondent-University, contended that the Registrar was not the competent authority to decide the aforesaid application of the petitioner or categorially answer her query in writing.
The Court held that it could not be clarified on behalf of the University, as to who is the competent authority to decide the application of the petitioner or answer her query in writing. This state of affairs speaks volumes of the sensitivity of the University authorities to the quest of students with dreams to pursue higher education.
“As I have said in my earlier order, it does not augur well for the future of students and the University, ” noted Justice Bhanot and stated that the Counsels on behalf of the University have not been able to inform the Court about the competent authority to decide the grievance of the petitioner.
“The Court is left with no option, but to direct the Vice Chancellor, UPRTOU, to appear in person before the Court and respond on behalf of the University. After the order was dictated, it was contended on behalf of the University that the UPRTOU Registrar shall pass an appropriate order in accordance with law on the query of the petitioner and produce the same in Court on September 14, 2021,”
-the order read.