Teachers claim DU sullied the seniority norms to appoint Professor Ragi as the new Pol Science HoD. Student activists and DU council members raise concern for the violation of the rules. The University denies such claims.
The University of Delhi has again come under discord with the section of teachers, alleging the bypass of the seniority norm in appointing the Head of the Department (HoD) of Political Science by superseding three senior professors. However, DU has denied any such allegations. Recently, Professor Sangit Kumar Ragi was appointed as the new Pol. Science HoD after former HoD Veena Kukreja succumbed to post-Covid complications on 14th May 2021 In the respective interim period, Rekha Saxena was made the presiding HoD. However, on 4th June 2021, 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.”
The section of teachers alleges that in appointing Ragi, DU had bypassed three more senior professors – Rekha Saxena, Ashok Acharya and Madhulika Banerjee. An anonymous source of the Indian Express stated earlier that until Veena Kukreja was appointed HoD, the norm of seniority had been followed. The source also added that Rekha Saxena has been Professor since 2010, whereas Ragi became Professor in 2014. Furthering the source demanded more clarity on the respective appointment matter, stating, “All three professors who were superseded became professors through the Merit Promotion Scheme (MPS) because they were already in the department, whereas Ragi was directly brought in as Professor.” DU Registrar Vikas Gupta made a statement holding that Ragi was the senior-most. He said,
“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One of the professors who were superseded said this was an unfortunate interpretation of DU’s rules. While talking to the Indian Express, the professor held, “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-honored 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.”
Rekha Saxena, another Professor who was 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.”
Naveen Gaur, an Academic Council member cited Clause 1 of Ordinance XXIII. He detailed, “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 as an Academic Council member Naveen Gaur was cited 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.”
In response to this, Vikas Gupta added in a public statement:
“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 recognized from the date of approval itself.” DU Beat approached Professor Naveen Gaur. Speaking on this topic he stated, “This is a very unfortunate thing which has happened. Tampering with the seniority norms is rather very wrong on the part of Delhi University. Speaking strictly, the Vice-Chancellor can do it but the officiating Vice-Chancellor shouldn’t have done this. It is very well known that Professor Ragi is very close to the ruling party, he is a well-known RSS broadcaster on various media channel. Besides, primarily this kind of departure from the normal course and due process is highly condemnable.”
Subsequently, in response to this, the All-India Students Association (AISA) DU released a notice alleging Ragi’s appointment as an attempt to subverting educational institutions to the fascist agenda of the ruling party. In the notification, AISA explicitly stated that Professor Ragi is a well-known RSS preacher, who has been openly Islamophobic, directly calling upon exclusion and violence against Muslims. The student organization also alleged him of actively propagating hatred and Hindutva chauvinism. The notification said, “Planting its allies and spokespersons at the helm of various educational institutions has been a constant strategy of the RSS to saffronise the nature of secular, state institutions. From favorable, ex-ABVP Principals in almost all colleges of DU, now Professor Sangit Kumar Ragi has been appointed as HOD of Political Science Department.” “Even as per the Department, Professor Ragi joined it just in 2014 and has 3 other professors who are much more senior to him.
The other 3 professors also became professors through the Merit Promotion Scheme, whereas Professor Ragi was directly brought in as a professor. The principle of rotation and seniority, which are defined by the total time spent in the institution have been arbitrarily misinterpreted to favour this appointment. The norm of seniority, which is generally followed in DU was misinterpreted and conventions have been bypassed in appointing an RSS favored HOD for Political Science,” added the notification. AISA released a new byte in which professor Ragi said, “increasing Muslim population is dangerous for the country.”
Abhigyan, a student activist of AISA shared his views on the topic. While talking to DU Beat he stated, “In 2019 when the BJP won, Ram Madhav very openly said that they wish to conquer the educational institutions of India to make their dream of a Hindu Rashtra come true. They have continued this process of planting favorable people in management positions. Professor Ragi has been on many shows, spewing absolute venom against Muslims of the country. His Twitter is filled with communal, casteist sexist tweets.” “We stand against his appointment on principle as well as on a procedural basis. Harmful interpretations of DU’s conventions are nothing new when it comes to promoting, appointing RSS affiliated people. Many teachers have raised this concern and AISA demands that proper explanations need to be given for bypassing the senior teachers,” added Abhigyan while talking to DU Beat.
Feature Image Credits: PTI