25 Sep :As you all know the protracted issue of Central Status to Panjab University, which was at one stage appeared to be getting resolved positively, has unnecessarily been politicized after the release of the ‘No Objection Certificate’, to the Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MHRD, Govt. of India, New Delhi, for granting Central status to Panjab University, Chandigarh by the Punjab Government, Department of Higher Education (Education 1 Branch) Memo No. 14/84/07-4EDU.1/20057, dated August 26, 2008.
There is no doubt that the said certificate was issued after a thorough home work done at the end of the Punjab government. For the same PUTA had to sit on relay fast for 142 days to convince the government of the dire need of such a status for bailing out PU, one of the four oldest universities established during the colonial regime in the country and a premier institute of higher education in the region. Panjab University being proud of its pre-independence heritage and great contributions it rendered in the uplift of this distinct cultural zone, also distinguished itself from the other universities of the region in that it has been chiseled under section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 (Vide Government of India Notification, dated 1-11-1966). This very Act clearly mentioned (sub-section  of section 72) that the Panjab University constituted under the Panjab University Act , 1947 (East Punjab Act 7 of 1947) shall, on and from the 1st day of November, 1966, continue to function and operate in those areas in respect of which it was functioning and operating immediately before that day, subject to such directions as may, from time to time, be issued by the Central Government, until other provision is made by law in respect of the said university (emphasis added).
The word directions is further clarified “AND WHEREAS under Sub-section (2) of the said Section 72, any such direction may include a direction that any law by which the said University is governed shall, in its application to that University, have effect, subject to such exceptions and modification as may be specified in the direction;
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (1), read with Sub-section (2) and (3) of the said Section 72, the Central Government hereby directs that the Panjab University Act, 1947 (East Panjab Act of 1947), shall, on and from the 1st day of November, 1966, have effect subject to the following modification, namely
Section 2. – In clause (b), for “Government of Punjab”, substitute “Central Government”.
Section 9. – For Section 9, substitute “Chancellor. The Chancellor of the University shall be appointed by the Central Government by notification in the Gazette of India” (for details see Panjab University Calendar Vol. I, 2005, pp. 1-27).
According to the above Act it is clear that since 1st November, 1966, Panjab University ceases to be governed by the directions of the Punjab Government. Since then the University has been run as per the directions issued by the Central Government. Even as regards the amounts of grants to be paid by the successor States, “the successor States shall make such grants as the Central Government may, from time to time, by order, determine” (bold added). After the withdrawal of affiliated colleges located in the State of Haryana by the Haryana State Government the term successor States meant only the Punjab State. It means that the 60-40 per cent ratio of the Central and the Punjab state governments is determined by the directions issued by the Central Government. Going by the letter and spirit of the Act, the Central Government is not bound by the consent of the Punjab Government to further upgrade the share of the Central Government or/and even declaring it a Central University.
Given such clear provisions of section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 (Vide Government of India Notification, dated 1-11-1966), the obduracy of the Central Government to obtain the permission of the Punjab Government to go ahead on the issue of Central University status to PU, on the one hand, and the release of the ‘No Objection Certificate’ by the Punjab Govt. and then taking a U-turn on its much considered stand, on the other, smell a lot of politics and a dirty trick played on PU, the prestigious university of the region. Rest, what followed, is a story known to every one of us.
PUTA makes an earnest appeal to the Central Government as well as the Government of Punjab for genuinely helping Panjab University in achieving the Status of a Central University. Such gesture would go a long way in strengthening the system of higher education in the State of Punjab and the entire region of north India. There should not be any unfounded fear that such a status to PU would dilute the claim of Punjab on Chandigarh. The very prefix of Panjab with “a” not “u” in spelling and naming the Panjab University is sufficient enough to assert the perennial claims of Punjab over Panjab University. Moreover, the universe of the Panjab University is not only confined to its Campus spread over sectors 14 & 25. The roots of this premier and the oldest institute of higher education of Punjab are spread on the entire regions of the State of Punjab. Its sprawling campuses in Muketsar, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur and a large number of its affiliated colleges located in Punjab are self explanatory of its being a permanent part of the State of Punjab. So if Central Status is granted to PU that would in no way snatch it from the State of Punjab nor do the claims of Punjab on Chandigarh dilute at all. Rather, that would help in streamlining the process of higher education and research in the region.
PUTA’s stand is very much clear: we are for the Central Status for Panjab University. PUTA in its general body meeting convened on 16th September 2008 passed the following three resolutions unanimously: [a] The PUTA will unambiguously work for the status of PU as a Central University, [b] Dr. Ronki Ram’s resignation was rejected and he was asked to continue as President, [c] the GBM directs PUTA Executive to carry on struggle for Central Status by constituting a Joint Action Committee (JAC) keeping in mind the earlier actions of the PUTA.
Formation of the JAC
The PUTA Executive met on September 23, 2008. The JAC is formed to decide the future course of action. Following are the tentative members of the JAC:
Professors Indu Banga, Dharmanand Sharma, Akhtar Mahmood, Nirmal Singh, D.N. Jauhar, B.S. Ghuman, J.K. Puri, Sheily Walia, Manjit Singh, N.K. Ojha, Ravinder K. Sharma, Rajeev Lochan, Keshav Malhotra, Devi Sirohi, A.S. Alhuwalia, Rajan Gaur, Karamjeet Singh, PUTA Executive, all presidents and Secretaries of the non-teaching unions as well as of the students union. The JAC will meet soon along with the PUTA Executive to chalk out the action plan.
The PUTA Executive was assured by the Vice Chancellor that all the CAS interviews will start as soon as the senate election is over. We know that Central Status is our prime concern but at the same time we are bound by our commitment to various other important issues of immediate concern of our fraternity and CAS is one of them.