We often hear about the need to reform our higher education. One of the common suggestions given in this direction is that our colleges are in urgent need of a qualified faculty. However, looking at the controversial state of recruitment of 1651 vacancies of assistant professors in higher education, it becomes obvious that different government departments have failed to perform in a coordinated manner.
The recruitment for these vacancies started with their being notified first in 2013 and three years have elapsed since then and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission is yet to complete the recruitment process.
Earlier, the MPhil applicants moved to court and contested their right upon the notified posts. They won but the higher education department used its power and cancelled the requisition. Later on in 2014, the vacancies were re-advertised with some additions and under a different eligibility criteria redefined through a changed SRO-124. The MPhil applicants again stayed the notification contesting the retrospective effect of the SRO-124. The Srinagar bench of the Honble High court ruled in favour of JKPSC while as the Jammu Bench against them. The authorities filed an appeal against the single bench judgement in Jammu wing and were allowed to proceed with the recruitment. However, controversies did not die down even afterwards.
In November 2015, JKPSC started the process of recruitment. Since the eligibility defined under SRO 124 required that the PhD degrees needed to be verified for being in accordance with 2009 regulations, JKPSC demanded a certificate from the PhD applicants to this effect. The two state universities issued certificates (MSP certificates) to PhD applicants but realized soon afterwards that they had committed mistakes. Consequently, the certificates were withdrawn by two universities and JKPSC asked the universities to issue these certificates anew. Since, both the universities had withdrawn at a time when interview dates for five subjects had been notified by JKPSC, it decided to proceed with the interviews. Those applicants who had not submitted their MSP certificates were left out, however, those applicants whose MSPs had been withdrawn by the universities were interviewed. Since then JKPSC has given four more deadlines to these applicants but the two state universities refused to come to terms with this demand. Instead, the universities requested the higher education department to order JKPSC to defer the recruitment for the time being. The universities were expecting a change in UGC minimum eligibility criteria in the month of March.
JKPSC refused the suggestion, and earlier on the higher education department refused to intervene. However, later on it again used its power as it had done earlier after MPhil applicants had won their case to be entertained. This time the higher education department suggested that JKPSC should wait for an indefinite period of time. Interestingly, the Hr. Education department cannot instruct the JKPSC regarding the recruitment. It is the job of the commission to see weather to wait or proceed. However, this time the intervention by the Hr. Education department implied a lack of trust in JKPSC judgement to decide whether to wait or proceed. In other words, it would not be wrong to say that the higher education department decided to put its weight behind those PhD applicants who failed to submit MSP certificates. Consequently, the state government displayed a lack of trust with its own SRO 124 and with UGC regulations in vogue. Importantly, these regulations had been in different controversies since 2009 and were challenged multiple times in different high courts of India. Every time the high court rejected the challenge and finally, the Supreme Court of India too cemented these regulations in March 2015 by ruling in their favour. However, our state universities acted in a manner as if they were unaware of all these facts and offered that JKPSC should wait for a MHRD constituted review committee the Nigavekar committee to bring about changes in UGC 2009 minimum eligibility criteria. Again our state universities seem to be unaware of the fact that there had been review committees before as well (like the Thaigrajan committee) who had even recommended in favour of diluting the UGC 2009 criteria in favour of PhD candidates, but despite their recommendations, UGC did not accept the suggestions. UGC rejected the Thaigraajn committee recommendations even before the Supreme Court ruling of 2015. Expecting a change on the recommendations of the recent Nigavekar committee is even more unlikely. However, our Hr. Education department, instead of relying on the prudent JKPSC judgement, decided to favour the two state Universities. One should not therefore be surprised by the fact that when honble advisor to his Excellency the Governor of J&K asked UGC regarding the matter, the Secretary UGC suggested the government not to wait for any change. When a recruiting body starts to wait for changes in eligibility criteria in the middle of a recruitment process, it has to be annoying for everyone. It makes sense only if the government had been unaware of their own recruitment rules formulated through SRO-124.
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