SC pulls up AMU for continuing with former soldier as VC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for continuing with Lt. Gen. Zameeruddin Shah (retd.) as Vice Chancellor in violation of UGC regulations that mandates only academician of stature to be the head of a university.

“If the whole country is following UGC regulations, then why not AMU if it is a central university. Tomorrow you will bring in some police officer and appoint him as Vice Chancellor”, said the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.

Under the UGC regulations, only an academician with at least 10 years of academic experience can be appointed as a Vice Chancellor. But Shah, a former deputy chief of the Indian army who was appointed as VC in 2010, holds just a post graduate degree.

The bench told counsel for the AMU that the University was involved in two wrongs. “You are doing two wrongs. One that you have appointed someone without proper qualifications and then there is a defiance on your part,” it said.

“The General continues to be the vice chancellor,” the Chief Justice Thakur asked the first thing after the matter was called for hearing with an element of wonder.

The bench brushed aside the submission by senior counsel Salman Khurshid that AMU was a minority institution and the appointment of Shah should be seen in that light, observing that AMU had not taken this as a ground during the hearing of the matter before the Allahabad High Court.

Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Syed Abrar Ahmed, told the bench that not only Shah was continuing as vice-chancellor but making illegal appointments and has also allegedly transferred university funds to a private trusts.

While AMU is saying that given its minority character, it was not obliged to follow UGC regulations, but the same is disputed by the regulatory body.

The matter travelled to the top court after Allahabad High Court found no fault in the appointment of Shah but Ahmed challenged it before the top court.