The Delhi University (DU) administration has come under the scanner by a section of teachers for bypassing the seniority norm in appointing the Head of the Department (HoD) of Political Science by superseding three senior professors. However, DU has denied the allegations.
The new HoD Sangit Kumar Ragi was appointed after former HoD Veena Kukreja died of post-Covid complications on May 14. In the interim, Rekha Saxena was made the officiating HoD.
However, on June 4, Registrar Vikas Gupta issued a notification stating, “As per the provisions of Statute 9 (2)(d) read with Ordinance XXIII and subject to the provisions of Statute 38, the Vice-Chancellor has appointed Prof. Sangit Kumar Ragi, Department of Political Science, as the Head, Department of Political Science, with immediate effect for three years.”
Sources said in appointing Ragi, DU had bypassed three more senior professors – Rekha Saxena, Ashok Acharya and Madhulika Banerjee.
“Until Veena Kukreja’s appointment as HoD, the norm of seniority had been followed. Rekha Saxena has been Professor since 2010, whereas Ragi became Professor in 2014. All three professors who were superseded became professors through the Merit Promotion Scheme (MPS) because they were already in the department, whereas Ragi was directly brought in as Professor. There should be clarity on what basis they have appointed him HoD,” said a senior teacher under the condition of anonymity.
DU Registrar Vikas Gupta, however, said Ragi was the senior-most: “There was a decision in the EC (Executive Council) on how to determine seniority between a direct recruitee and promotee. In this case, the direct recruitees joined on November 3, 2014, and their recommendation was approved by the then V-C on November 1, 2014. In the case of the promotees, the recommendation of the Selection Committee was approved by the then V-C on November 7, 2014. So we determine seniority from the date of approval of the V-C or the EC which makes the direct recruitee senior in this case.”
One of the professors who were superseded said this was “an unfortunate interpretation” of DU’s rules. “It is an established principle in the university that those who are promoted are done so with retrospective effect from when the promotion was due. Sometimes the V-C’s approval takes time but the date of seniority is never disturbed because of that. This is what has been followed. This is a clear-cut case of violating the time-honoured principle of seniority, that too by an Acting Vice-Chancellor. Even if the V-C has a prerogative, it should be clear why there was a deviation from the norm, and that prerogative should be of the permanent V-C, not an Acting V-C,” the professor said.
Academic Council member Naveen Gaur cited Clause 1 of Ordinance XXIII which states that “the Head of the Department shall be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor by observing, as far as possible, the principle of rotation”. The Ordinance also states that seniority will be the basis of rotation.
“The seniority in an institution is defined by the total time in an institution and the effective promotion date. For eg, if I was promoted from Level 10 to 11 on (say) January 1, 2021, and my eligibility was from January 1, 2014, then my promotion will be w.e.f. the latter date and I will get all the benefits from 2014. It is not the teacher’s fault if the university is delaying promotions,” he said.
However, Gupta said, “Under the MPS, teachers will get promotion from the date of eligibility but seniority will be counted from the date of approval (of the EC or the V-C). They will get financial benefits retrospectively, but their seniority will be recognised from the date of approval itself.”
When contacted, Ragi refused to comment saying he was in the hospital due to post-Covid issues, and asked that the university authorities be contacted.
Rekha Saxena, who’s also allegedly superseded, said, “The issue concerns framework within which seniority rules are being followed in the University, as the confusion arose after two letters of offering headships contained the same provisions of the statutes and the ordinances. I’m hopeful that soon this ambiguity of rules, followed in the said matter, creating the confusion would be cleared by the University.”