An Open Letter to Nayeem Akhter

Sh. Naeem Akhtar   

Hon’ble Minister for Higher Education, J&K

You are very vocal on politics. You speak it most often. You are the spokesman of the ruling party. But beyond that, you own a constitutional responsibility towards the state. You are the Minister for Higher Education. We believe that you are serious about the academic quality in our colleges and the transparency in the selection processes of teachers therein.  

Mr. Minister, the state colleges are running short of faculty members and a massive recruitment is under process to fulfill the vacant posts from the times of your predecessor government. The posts were advertised by JKPSC, a body that has a goal, ‘Being fair to all and being seen as such’. It has a pledge of, ‘exercising utmost impartiality, objectivity and efficiency in accomplishing its tasks in a time bound manner and transparently, making use of technological innovations, wherever feasible’ towards the people of the state.          

The goal and the pledge mentioned above is the only thing least cared about by JKPSC and your silence is beyond our understanding.

To exemplify, take the recruitment of Assistant Professors for the Higher Education Department in 2014 under the Notification No: 12-PSC (DR-P) of 2014, Dated: 29 .05. 2014. The eligibility criteria were set according to the rules set by UGC Minimum Standard Procedures (MSP) 2009. The said rules deprived the candidates having acquired PhD degrees, prior to June 2009, from getting shortlisted for the interview as they did not follow the UGC-MSP-2009 during their PhD. The JKPSC halted the recruitment process at the behest of University of Kashmir and University of Jammu and waited for the new amendment in the UGC regulations vis-a-vis the eligibility criteria for the posts in higher education. The recruitment process was commenced only after the amendment in the UGC rules published on 11th July, 2016 and described as University Grants Commission (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) (4th Amendment), Regulations, 2016 [No.F.1-2/2016(PS/Amendment)]. This 4th amendment in the rules sanctioned a respite to the candidates having registered for the Ph.D programme prior to July 11, 2009.

Mr. Minister, the problem that followed was the application of UGC amendment 2016 on the advertisement dating back to 2014. The reason was that the UGC amendment 2016 clearly stated that “They shall come into force with immediate effect from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette”. However, JKPSC applied the 2016 amendment of UGC rules with retrospective effect, and asked the aspirants to come up with certificates as per UGC Regulations 2009 and UGC Regulations, 2016 whichever is applicable.

The candidates wrote to UGC asking if the PSC has a right to give retrospective effect to the UGC amendment that calls for an immediate effect. The UGC responded on 30 August 2016, vide notice no. D.O.No.F. 1 -1 221201 6(VlP/PS) dated 30 August, 2016 that, “the appointments shall be governed by the UGC Regulations 2010 along with their amendments notified at the time of issuance of the advertisement and subject to the many conditions: which included that ‘due selection criteria / process as prescribed in the UGC Regulations and their Amendments, in operation on the date of advertisement, was followed. No modification was made subsequently in the original advertisement”.

UGC was very clear that only those amendments will apply on an advertisement that was issued at the time of advertisements and not those issued thereafter. In the light of this clarification, JKPSC can not apply UGC amendments, 2016 on the earlier advertisement of 2014 especially when there have no changes in the advertisement to incorporate the amendments’ 2016.

The issue was raised with the Chairman JKPSC, Sh. Lateef ul Zaman Deva, who sought to discuss the matter with urgency, but to no conclusion till date. When JKPSC secretary Sh. Shakeel ur Rehman was asked the question about this issue on state radio program Sheharbeen dated 1-1-2017, he responded by saying that ‘we have not received any order from govt barring the body from providing retrospective effect to UGC 2016 amendment’. What wonders us is that how can a person be capable of being leader of recruitment process when he himself is unable to make sense from the words contained in 2016 amendment, reading, ‘They (2016 rules) shall come into force with immediate effect from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette’. He still needs a government order to stop the wrong, when the UGC order is amply clear before him.

Mr. Minister, The issue was raised in the all major English dailies of the state, including the front page report by Kashmir Times (Nov 30, 2016). But the state of affairs did not change.

Now, in order to bring utmost impartiality, objectivity and efficiency in Higher Education Department, this is requested to your goodness to kindly ask for a copy of UGC 2016 amendment and call upon the Higher Education Department and JKPSC to issue clarification as on what grounds do they apply UGC 2016 amendment on 2014 advertisement.

The aspirants observe that since recruitment was halted earlier at the behest of two universities as many of the candidates of influential professors were rendered ineligible. Now, it is again at the behest of the same people, that rules are being violated and ineligible candidates as per the advertisement are being selected for the recruitment.  

The letter is written with the faith that your goodness takes serious cognisance of the issue pertaining to your own department, and ensures justice and transparency in the system. It is hoped that the matter is resolved herewith and the aspirants are not compelled to make an appeal to opposition political parties for the more unwanted on this issue.  

Yours Sincerely

Mohammad Yousf 

 

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