New Delhi, Nov 29 : The Supreme Court today took exception to the submission of Aligarh Muslim University that an eminent person can be appointed its vice-chancellor, saying did it mean that “a singer, a sportsman or a musician” can also selected for the coveted assignment. “Can anybody, unconnected with acedemics, be also appointed? What is the criteria There is no qualification, no eligibility criteria, no search committee… Who proposes the appointnment? Can anyone become the VC,” the bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said.

The bench took strong note of the submisison of senior advocate Raju Ramachandran that an eminent person can be shortlisted and appointed as the VC. Buttressing his argument, Ramachandran also referred to Vice President Hamid Ansari, a career diplomat, and said that being an eminent person, he was appointed the VC of the university during 2000-02. “Distinguished civil servants, army generals, diplomats have held this post at the central university under the criteria of eminent person,” he said. Does it mean “a singer, a sportsman, a musician,” can be selected as the vice-chancellor, the bench asked.

The university said there has been tradition to appoint eminent persons to the post. The bench then adjourned the hearing to December 6 as sought by the counsel for a party in the case. Earlier, the Centre had said it did not take a “rigid” stand in appointment and had already forwarded three short-listed names to the President for approval as the varsity has kept the UGC regulations on the issue at abeyance.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) had said that three names were forwarded to the President under the relevant provisions of the Aligarh Muslim University Act. The President appointed one of the short-listed persons as the VC, the ministry said, adding the varsity is yet to adopt the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The reply of the HRD Ministry was filed in response to a plea of an alumni of the university seeking a direction to quash appointment of Lt Gen (Retd) Zameeruddin Shah as the VC. “As far as the appointment of the present vice-chancellor of AMU is concerned, the university has explained in its affidavit that the adoption of clause 7.3.0 of the UGC regulations was kept in abeyance at the time of processing the matter of the filling up of the post of vice-chancellor.

“Since the university had not adopted the said UGC regulations pertaining to appointment of the vice-chancellor, it sent the proposal containing a panel of three persons recommended by the court of the university to the ministry for onward submission to the visitor (President), which was prepared in accordance with the prevalent statutes of AMU Act, 1920,” the ministry had said.

“The ministry did not take a rigid stand at the time of forwarding the panel to the visitor in May 2012 as the post of the VC was vacant and was required to be filled up without delay,” the ministry said, adding that the post was filled up in May 2012 with the approval of competent authority that is visitor, who is the President, on the “basis of panel recommended by the court as per the relevant statutes of AMU Act”. The appointment of Shah as the VC of AMU on May 11, 2012 was challenged on the ground that according to the UGC regulations, the VC ought to have worked for at least 10 years as a professor in a university or on an equivalent post in a research or academic institute.

The petitioner, Syed Abrar Ahmed, had argued before the high court that the regulations — which pertained to minimum qualifications and maintenance of standards in higher education — had become binding on AMU when it had adopted these on December 6, 2010. The ministry had said that the UGC regulations on Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education, 2010 are mandatory for central universities. “All the central universities should adopt these regulations without fail and as early as possible in order to ensure maintenance of standards in higher education,” it said.