Chandigarh : Today the concerned citizen, who have been raising issues of justice in Chandigarh, held a meeting and floated a public forum LOK AWAAZ to address the various issues concerning society. In its meeting, besides many issues, Lok Awaaz discussed the attack on the autonomy of the University Grants Commission (UGC) as exemplified by the show cause notice issued to Yogendra Yadav by the Ministry of Human Resource Development objecting to his being a active member of Aam Aadami Party while also being member of the UGC. He has been accused of conflict of interest, whereas the UGC rules and regulations nowhere mention political activity as the potential conflict of interest. The members were particularly angry of such action of the ministry as Yogendra Yadav has also been associated with Panjab University as faculty member in the Department of Political Science. In the meeting following resolution has been passed:
“The news of the Ministry of Human Resource Development serving a show-cause notice to Prof. Yogendra Yadav, Member, UGC, to explain why he should not be removed from the UGC has shocked and dismayed us. The notice mentions a conflict of interest, as Prof. Yogendra Yadav is a active member of a newly registered political party, as the reason for such removal.
The UGC has a formal policy on Conflict of Interest and Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission which does not mention political activity as a potential conflict of interest. The University Grants Commission (Disqualification, Retirement and Conditions of Service) Rule, 1992 provides for specific grounds of disqualification which, again, does not include membership of a political party as a valid ground.
It is evident that the decision of serving the show-cause notice stems from the fact that Prof. Yogendra Yadav chose to be an active member of the Commission who raised questions and recorded his objections in regard to several matters of national importance such as the introduction of the four year undergraduate programme in Delhi University, bypassing of the recommendations of the UGC committee in the notification of the API scheme, closing down of Centers for Study of Social Exclusion, and the decision to set up a Centre on Teacher Education in a University that does not even have a department of education. Prof. Yogendra Yadav’s persistent efforts to point out irregularities in the conduct of the Commission meetings and recording of minutes also seem to have put some officials in an uncomfortable situation.
We believe that such active concern is precisely what should be expected from a member of a body of national importance like the UGC as this is what strengthens the working of such bodies. We are shocked that the Ministry, which, in a healthy democracy, should have given due importance to the matters raised, and should have encouraged such vigilant participation, has instead initiated the process of removing the member. Such a measure sends a strong message of intolerance towards all members who consider it their duty to express their opinions and threatens to severely erode the ethos of informed debate and fearless participation. It demonstrates an utter disregard for the autonomy vested in the institution of the UGC without which it cannot be expected to play its role as a regulatory body effectively.
It is urged that immediate steps may be taken to withdraw the show-cause notice issued to Prof. Yogendra Yadav.