HC quashes Panjab University’s appointment for UILS director
The HC bench of justice Harsh Bunger observed the head of a legal institute has to be a person, who has minimum prescribed qualification in law as mandated in the 2008 rules of the Bar Council of India
The Punjab and Haryana high court has quashed Panjab University’s decision to appoint Sarabjit Kaur, a professor of political science, as the director of University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS), an institute which runs the popular five-year BA LLB course.
“… the director of respondent number 4 institute, being the head of the institute, is not a mere honorary designation as he/she is required to perform various functions and to exercise such powers which in its very nature are aimed towards providing academic leadership to the department, to co-ordinate teaching, research and administrative work of the department, to exercise financial powers etc,” the bench of justice Harsh Bunger observed, adding that the institute head has to be a person, who has minimum prescribed qualification in law as mandated in the 2008 rules of the Bar Council of India (BCI).
The court directed PU to make fresh appointment within six weeks.
The plea against Kaur’s May 31 appointment was challenged by her colleague, Shruti Bedi, who had argued that as per Rule 16 of Rules of Legal Education, 2008, framed by BCI, only a professor having a 15-year experience of teaching law may be appointed as director of any institute imparting legal studies. Hence, she can’t be appointed as the UILS director.
PU had argued that it was an honorary position as per PU rules. However, the court did not agree with the argument.
The court said when concerned with the appointment of a head of centre of legal education, a person duly qualified in law was required to be the head in the interest of the students coming out of such centre in light of the provisions of the Advocates’ Act, 1961, and the 2008 BCI rules.
The court added that notwithstanding the procedure to be followed under the University Act, the adherence to requirements of the Advocates Act and the BCI rules was also to be ensured when concerned with the appointment of a principal of a law college. “Even though at first blush, the aforesaid argument seems to be attractive, but it does not detain this court for too long to brush aside the same, as the issue involved in the present case is not to test the impugned action based on the principles of service jurisprudence but to test the impugned action towards the compliance of norms of BCI affiliation,” the bench observed on PU’s argument that none of the teachers was to be denied equality before law; thus they were entitled to be appointed as director of UILS irrespective of the fact that they were a professor of law or another social science subject.