Petition filed challenging the procedure for the post of appointing the Vice Chancellor,NLU Delhi

Brief of the case along with observations made by the Hon'ble Court are as follows for your kind perusal and publication in your prestigious column:

The Delhi High Court was moved on Monday by Dr. Prasannanshu through Advocate Karan suneja by the virtue of invoking the civil writ jurisdiction of the court as envisaged under Article 226, Constitution of India, 1950 (hereinafter “COI” in short) against the Selection Committee for Vice Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi (hereinafter “VC” and “NLU-D” in short, respectively) and NLU-D.

The Court was moved by the petitioner due to the fact that he was not called, despite fulfilling all the requirements, by the Selection committee for the post of Vice-Chancellor interview/interactive meeting whereby other candidates (having similar minimum qualification) were duly called for the said post and hence the petitioner was not treated at par with the other candidates. Therefore, his fundamental right as enshrined under Article 14, The Constitution of India, 1950 i.e. right to equality was violated.

A notification was issued by the convener of the selection committee for VC of NLU-D on 11.10.2019 inviting nominations for the post of VC, NLU-D pursuant to which Dr. Prasannanshu applied for the post of VC of NLU-D on 11.11.2019 in the prescribed format, within the time period prescribed for applying, after duly verifying the requirements, as prescribed in the advertisement, dated 11.10.2019.

In the incumbent case, the petitioner alleged that the Selection Committee met on 5 February 2020 and decided to call the applicants for an interaction on 25 February 2020. The Petitioner felt aggrieved by this act of the selection committee as he neither received any communication to be present in this interaction meeting nor did he get any letter highlighting reasons for rejection of his candidature despite meeting the requirements enshrined in the advertisement dated 11.10.2019.

The petition submits that:

“The petitioner’s right to be equally treated by the Selection committee has not been respected and he has been treated differently and as a necessary corollary he has been discriminated by the selection committee as the principle of intelligible differentia which is a part of Article 14 of the Constitution of India was not duly applied in this case. Hence, the procedure adopted by the Selection Committee is grossly illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and not germane to the principle of intelligible differentia. The principle of reasonableness, logically as well as philosophically, is an essential element of equality or non-arbitrariness and wherever any arbitrariness or unreasonableness is found then there is a denial of rule of law.”

A representation dated 03.06.2020 was sent to the Hon’ble Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi to look into the matter and thereby providing transparent and fair opportunity to the Petitioner to be called by the selection committee for the post of vice chancellor but no response was received by the Petitioner and thus the writ petition was filed.

The petition also challenged the “procedure adopted selection committee as no definitive process/guidelines have been prescribed, especially intricacies like how the candidates have to be eliminated at the stage of shortlisting and what objectivity is followed qua the same.”

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that “the criteria has to be absolutely transparent and in public domain. It is not out of place to mention that no candidate would ordinarily be applying for the post who does not fulfil the minimum qualification criteria and therefore in case of any conundrum in the mind of the members of the selection committee with respect to the candidature of those candidates whom they have any doubts and it can be safely presumed that it is in the interest of the concept of natural justice and equity that an opportunity and fair chance must be given by the selection committee to such candidates to present their views as to how they qualify or meet the minimum eligibility criteria.”

The Hon’ble Court presided over by Justice Jyoti singh issued notice and made the following observations:

“Mr. Suneja submits that the applicant has a glorious record and academic profile, including his professional qualifications and was eligible for the post as per the terms and conditions of the advertisement. He further submits that a representation has been made on 03.06.2020 to the Chancellor to look into the matter and provide a hearing, which is still pending.

Mr. Suneja further submits that the present petition has been triggered by the fact that the Petitioner has recently learnt that the Selection Committee is in the process of declaring the result of the interview, in which case, serious prejudice would be caused to the Petitioner.

Let the Registrar of Respondent No.2 place the representation before the Chancellor for consideration.

Needless to state that the order passed will be communicated to the Petitioner within a period of 3 days from the date of the decision.

In case the Petitioner is aggrieved by the decision, he is at liberty to take recourse to the remedies available to him in accordance with law.”

As a matter of culmination, the Hon’ble Court directed the Registrar, NLU-D to place the representation of the Petitioner before the Hon’ble Chancellor for consideration.

The petitioner was represented by Mr. Karan Suneja, Advocate, Delhi High Court.

The National Law University was represented through Mr. Sanjay Vashishtha, Standing Counsel. and Mr. S.D Sharma.

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ORDER DATED 22.06.2020
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Karan Suneja


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