HC Orders End To Prof Andrabi’s Tenure As KU’s VC

Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by incumbent vice-chancellor Kashmir University, Prof Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi, seeking directions to restrain varsity’s chancellor from going ahead with the process of appointing his successor and allowing him to hold the post for two more years in wake of the amendment, extending the tenure of the VC from three to five years in 2015.

Announcing the verdict, 78 days after reserving it, a bench of Justice held the argument by professor Andrabi that the amendment Act of 2015 be given retroactive effect without any legal basis.  

Professor Andrabi was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the Kashmir University by virtue of an order on 17 October 2014. The appointment was for a period of three years from the date he took over.

By virtue of the Jammu and Kashmir Universities (Amendment Act), 2015, which came to be notified in the Government Gazette on 20 April 2015, the tenure of the VC was extended from three to five years.

As observed by the court, the amendment was incorporated at a time when professor Andrabi was still serving as the Vice-Chancellor of the Kashmir University and his tenure had not yet expired, which otherwise expired on October 17 last year. The High Court as interim relief had allowed Andrabi to continue as the vice chancellor.  

On 8 September last year, the university’s chancellor, governor NN Vohra, directed constitution of a search committee for appointment of the new vice-chancellor in anticipation of the expiry of the three years tenure of professor Andrabi.  

He believing that he has a right to continue for a further period upto a maximum of five years in view of the amendment incorporated in Section 12(5) of the Act of 2015 filed the present petition inter alia seeking a writ of prohibition, restraining the authorities to give effect to the order 8 September order and permit him to continue as Vice-Chancellor for a period of five years from the date he took charge as such.

”..It clear that any amendment, which has the effect of altering the rule retrospectively from an anterior date, which has the effect of taking away the benefits from an employee, which were available under the said rule can successfully be challenged as being arbitrary and discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution on the principle that vested/accrued rights cannot be taken away retrospectively in an arbitrary manner,” the court said.

Equally settled, the court said, is the principle of law that where vested or accrued rights are sought to be taken away retrospectively from an anterior date, the law must provide for taking away such rights expressly or by necessary implication and unless and until the law specifically provides so, the same shall be deemed to be prospective.

“....the tenure to which (Prof Andrabi) could have legitimately claimed a vested right in was the tenure for a period of three years fixed in accordance with the letter of his appointment dated 17.10.2014, which is in accord with the tenure fixed in terms of Section 12(5) of the Act of 1969. (He) cannot at all claim that by virtue of the amendment Act of 2015, any of his vested rights in the tenure already fixed are sought to be taken away, nor is it the case (Prof Andrabi) before this court that the three years tenure is sought to be reduced in any manner and thus it could never be (his) case that any of his vested rights were affected by the amendment in question.”

 

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