Read Judgment: Gambhirdan K Gadhvi V. State of Gujarat & Ors. 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 4, 2022: Finding that the fourth respondent did not fulfill the eligibility criteria as per the UGC Regulations, 2018, namely, having ten years of teaching work experience as a professor in the university system, the Supreme Court has declared his appointment to post of Vice Chancellor of Sardar Patel University (SP University – Second respondent) as illegal, being contrary to University Grants Commission (UGC) Regulations, 2018. 

A Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice B.V Nagarathna observed that in case of any conflict between State legislation and Central legislation, Central legislation shall prevail by applying the rule/principle of repugnancy as enunciated in Article 254 of the Constitution as the subject ‘education’ is in the Concurrent List (List III) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. 

Therefore, any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto, added the Bench. 

The observation came pursuant to a petition filed by Gambhirdan (Petitioner) challenging the appointment of fourth respondent as a Vice Chancellor of SP University by way notification dated August 29, 2019, bearing No.GH/SH/76/SPY/122010/2626/ KH2 passed by the State of Gujarat (first respondent).

The petitioner also prayed for direction to the respondent authorities to recover from the fourth respondent consequential benefits not limited to pay, with retrospective effect, that had been extended to him by virtue of his illegal appointment as Vice Chancellor of the SP University. 

After considering the submissions, the Apex Court found that the UGC Regulations, 2010/2018 specifically prescribing the qualification / eligibility criteria for the post of Vice Chancellor, and the fourth respondent did not fulfill the eligibility criteria prescribed under the UGC Regulations, as he was not having ten years of teaching work experience as a professor in the university system and moreover, his name was not recommended by the legally constituted search committee, constituted as per the UGC Regulations, 2010/2018.

The provisions of the SPU Act, 1955/provisions under the State legislation are just contrary to the UGC Regulations, 2010/2018, which, are binding on the State Government and the universities thereunder. Even the State Government has not bothered to amend the State legislation – to put at par with the UGC Regulations, 2010/2018 and has continued the appointment in the universities dehors the UGC Regulations”, added the Court. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah noted that in the present case the UGC had addressed to the Governor of Gujarat, who is also the Chancellor of the University, to ensure that all the appointments of Vice Chancellors in the State are made in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Regulations of UGC.

However, despite the clear instructions from the office Governor of Gujarat, it is unfortunate that till date the State legislation has not been amended by the State Government and the appointments to the post of Vice Chancellor in the Universities in the said State are being made just contrary to the UGC guidelines and Regulations, added the Bench. 

Justice Shah further found that as per Section 9 of the Sardar Patel University Act, 1955, the Governor of Gujarat is the Chancellor of the University and he shall, by virtue of his office, be the head of the University and the President of the Senate, and therefore, his advice was/is binding upon the University. 

Therefore, observing that the members of the Search Committee, who are given the privilege and honour of selecting and suggesting names for the appointment of Vice Chancellor are directly or indirectly responsible for the achievement of the University, the Apex Court allowed the petition. 

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