HC says Mumbai University VC Rajan Welukar was appointed 'without application of mind'

The Bombay High Court today ruled that the appointment of Rajan Welukar as the vice chancellor of Mumbai University reflects lack of "application of mind" and violated the criteria stipulated for the job.

The observation came from the division bench of Justices P V Hardas and Anuja Prabhudesai. Another bench had earlier delivered a split verdict on a petition challenging Welukar's appointment, so it had been referred to the bench headed by Justice Hardas. The High Court today also ruled that it can use its `special jurisdiction' to direct the selection committee to reconsider its decision of shortlisting Welukar.

Holding that the appointment was without application of mind on the part of the committee, the bench referred the petition back to the original bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Girish Godbole for further hearing.The bench also held that the selection committee had not followed one of the criteria for the VC's post that the candidate should have published at least five research articles after his/her PhD in international peer-reviewed journals, or he/she should be author of a text book.

Welukar was appointed in July 2010. Vasant Ganu Patil and A D Sawant challenged the appointment in the High Court.On August 10, 2011, the bench of Chief Justice Shah and Justice Godbole had delivered a split verdict. While Justice Shah held that Welukar had the necessary qualifications, Justice Godbole noted that of the 12 publications cited by Welukar, only a few could be considered as they came after his September 2004 PhD.

The matter was then referred to a single judge, Justice S J Vazifdar, who on February 22, 2012, agreed with Justice Godbole but could not decide the issue. Thereafter on May 11, 2012 the matter was referred to the bench headed by Justice Hardas which today ruled that the appointment was not in conformity with the criteria.

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