Responding to the showcause notice issued by the Pallam Raju-led Human Resource Development Ministry over political affiliation coming in conflict with his membership of the University Grants Commission, Prof Yogendra Yadav said the move to remove him would be “contrary to the letter and spirit of law, rules and regulations and the Code of Conduct that govern membership of the UGC”.
He warned it would set a “dangerous precedent and deter autonomous bodies from functioning autonomously”, as it would convey that any independent member of an autonomous body who dares to disagree with the ministry would be thrown out. He listed a number of counts where he disagreed with the UGC and the ministry on academic issues. In a strong communication, he sought to draw the minister’s attention to “brazen conflict of interest” in the form of “more than 100 honourable MPs who own or run private higher educational institutions” and how the ministry nominated people running educational institutes to the UGC that led to the deemed university scandal.
In his reply to the notice, Yadav said the UGC Act 1956, does not bar a UGC member from membership of a political party or participation in politics; the UGC (Disqualification, Retirement and Conditions of Service of Members) Rules 1992 also list ‘unsound mind’, ‘undischarged insolvent’ or undue ‘absence from any four consecutive meetings’, none of which apply to him. That apart, political affiliation clauses find no mention in the UGC’s 2012 conflict of interest policy.
“Even when I joined the Commission in July 2011, I was an ordinary member of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad, a lesser known registered political party. I left it to join Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012. There was no rule, regulation or proforma that required me to inform UGC or the ministry about my political affiliation or changes therein... The UGC is not the Election Commission and does not regulate political parties. It does not entertain any representation from political parties. So, there is no direct or obvious conflict of interest,’’ Yadav said. He said