KH.NOBIN SINGH,J. -
(1.) Heard Shri N. Jotendro, learned Sr. Advocate assisted by Ms. M.C. Linthoingambee, Advocate appearing for the petitioners in PIL No.49 of 2018; Shri N. Kumarjit, learned Advocate General, Manipur assisted by Shri P. Tamphamani, Advocate for the State respondents, Shri H.S. Paonam, learned Sr. Advocate assisted by Shri S. Gunabanta, Advocate for the respondent No.2 in WP(C) No.825 of 2018; Shri M. Hemchandra, learned Sr. Advocate for the petitioners in WP(C) No.1084 of 2018 and 327 of 2019 and the respondent No.5 in PIL No.49 of 2018, Shri Y. Nirmolchand, learned Sr. Advocate assisted by Shri L. Raju, Advocate for the petitioner in W.P. (C) No. 1036 of 2018; Shri S. Suresh, learned ASG for the Union of India; Shri A. Mohendro, learned Advocate for the petitioner in WP(C) No.825 of 2018 and the respondent No.4 in PIL No.49 of 2018, Shri B.P. Sahu, learned Senior Advocate assisted by Shri S. Yaiskul, Advocate appearing for the Manipur University; Shri Th. Ibohal, Senior Advocate for the respondent No.6, MUTA in PIL; Shri Th. Modhu, the learned Advocate for the respondent No.8, MUSA in PIL; Shri N. Ibotombi, Senior Advocate for the Manipur University in WP(C) No.825 of 2018 and Shri A. Sashikumar, Advocate for the respondent No.7, MUSU.
(2.) The above mentioned petitions namely writ petitions and the PILs, have arisen out of the same set of facts and therefore, the same are being disposed of by this common judgment and order. The said petitions have, indisputably and undoubtedly, arisen out of the problems plagued by the student"?s agitation in Manipur University for quite some time. A University is meant for the education of students and therefore, the interest of the students is paramount. The teachers and staff of the University are the stakeholders whose roles are indispensable for the smooth functioning of the University.
(3.) A PIL No.48 of 2018 was taken up by this Court pursuant to a letter dated 29-09-2018 submitted to the Hon"?ble Chief Justice of this court by a journalist, Shri Hemantakumar Ningomba, the then Editor of Hueiyen Lanpao, a local daily (Manipuri Edition) for taking up appropriate action regarding the imbroglio of the Manipur University vis-a-vis the unwanted atmosphere in the institution whereby the academic careers of thousands of students were at stake. His letter dated 29-09-2018 reads as under:
The Hon'ble the Chief Justice
High Court of Manipur
(Through the Registrar General, High Court of Manipur)
Sub:- Request for taking up appropriate action regarding the present imbroglio of Manipur University vis -vis the unwanted atmosphere presently enveloping the institution whereby academic careers of thousands of students are at stake.
I, the undersigned am a concerned citizen of this country and a native of the State of Manipur. I am working as Editor of Hueiyen Lanpao News daily (Manipur Edition). It pains me to see the situation of thousands of students whose academic careers are at stake and thereby stand to lose a whole academic year besides the acute mental trauma they must be going through presently.
I submit to you, that without any doubt there are countless students who have become grist of the mills. And, I, on behalf of these voiceless student community, implore you take up any appropriate action to allay the fears and alleviate the hardships faced by them.
And for such act of kindness, the undersigned shall ever be obliged.
Khongman Okram Chuthek, P.O. Singjamei,
P.S. Irilbung, Imphal East District, Manipur.
Mobile No. 9856088733."?
3.1 While PIL No.48 of 2018 was pending, the instant PIL No.49 of 2018 came to be filed by Shri Chongtham Nimai Singh, a retired Lecturer of Johnstone Higher Secondary School, Imphal, at present, doing social work for the welfare of the State of Manipur. The prayers made in the said PIL No.49 of 2018 read as under:
"In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, it is therefore, prayed that Your Lodships may graciously be pleased to:-
(i) Issue rule and call for records;
(ii) Issue a Writ in the nature of mandamus or certiorari or quo-warranto or any other appropriate Writ of the like nature for direction to the Respondents to bring normalcy inside the campus of the Manipur University and its affiliated colleges under the said University within certain stipulated period coupled with a prayer for quashing and setting aside the impugned order dated 10/09/2018 as available at Annexure-A/14 issued by Professor Adya Prasad Pandey (AP Pandey in short) as illegal and without any authority of law in view of the order dated 3/9/2018 as available at Annexure-A/7 issued by the Registrar-in-Charge, Manipur University and also in view of the Office Memorandum dated 21/08/2018 issued by the Registrar-in-Charge, Manipur University pending final inquiry of the 2 (two) Members Inquiry Committee as per the Memorandum of Agreement dated 16/8/2018 signed amongst the Joint Secretary, MHRD, Government of India, Commissioner (Higher and Tech. Edn.), Govt. of Manipur, President, MUTA, MUSA and President, MUSU respectively and further direct the Respondents to appoint a Pro-V.C. as per the provisions of Schedule 4(1) of the Statutes of the Manipur University Act, 2005 till the inquiry proceedings are completed against the said AP Pandey;
(iii) In the interim, suspend or stay all the orders issued by the Private Respondent No. 4 (A). P. Pandey, V.C. of M.U.) during the period of his leave and also after his suspension as the same were issued by usurping his power including the appointment of Pro-V.C. namely K. Yugindro Singh dated 10/9/2018 as available at Annexure-A/14 to the writ petition pending final disposal of the instant so as to enable to bring normalcy inside the Manipur University campus;
(iv) Direct to appoint a fresh Pro-V.C. as per the Schedule 4(1) of the Statues of the Manipur University Act, 2005 so as to enable to bring normalcy inside the Manipur University campus;
(v) Pass any order/orders or direction/directions which this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper to secure the ends of justice."?
3.2 Considering the fact that since these two PILs were closely related and ultimate end sought for was the normalcy of the situation in Manipur University, this Court vide its order dated 01-10-2018 directed that these two PILs should be clubbed together and merged. In order to avoid any multiplicity of orders passed by this court in these two PILs, PIL No.48 of 2018 stood merged with PIL No.49 of 2018 and accordingly, the petitioner in PIL No.48 of 2018 was co-opted with the petitioner in PIL No.49 of 2018. Similarly and for the same reason, the respondent Nos. 6 to 8 in PIL No.48 of 2018 were also made the respondents in PIL No.49 of 2018. Keeping in mind the fact that the management of the Manipur University would come within the purview of the University authorities and also the extraordinary situation which called for certain role to be played by the Court, this Court issued notice to the respondents.
3.3 In the affidavit on behalf of the Manipur University, respondent
No. 3 herein, the following suggestions have been made:
" 2. That, as directed by the Hon'ble High Court vive the order dated 01-10-2018 my suggestion to resolved the crisis being face by the Manipur University are as under :-
3. That, the Manipur University Teacher Association may be directed to co-operate the authorities of the University. Likewise, the Manipur University Staff Association may also be directed to co-operate the authorities of the University, so that the University restore its normalcy.
4. That, the law and order problem is the State subject for which the State of Manipur is required to be directed for taking up necessary action so that untoward incident may not be occurred in an around the premises of the Manipur University.
5. That, some of the prayers made in the above referred PIL which relates to the appointment of Pro-Vice Chancellor and its removal as well as other functionaries of the University will not be within the purview of the PIL in view of the Notification dated 27-01-2011 issued by the Registrar General, Gauhati High
Court to the extend that "service matters and those pertaining to pension and gratuity"? may not be under PIL. Therefore, such prayers may be deleted from the above referred PIL."?
3.4 The Respondent No. 4, Prof. A. P. Pandey also filed an affidavit placing his suggestions before this Court and the para 3 thereof read as under:
"3. That, I am reproducing my suggestions as under:"?
SHORT TERM SOLUTION FOR BRINGING PEACEFUL
ATMOSPHERE AT MU CAMPUS
(I) Any enquiry may be constituted due process of law.
(II) Any demand by the agitators be submitted as charter of demands to the concerned authority as provided in Manipur
(III) All agitators should withdraw all their illegal means/ manners of demand and respect the Rule of Laws.
(IV) Teachers, Staffs and Students should return to their respective Department and Class Rooms.
LONG TERM/PREVENTIVE MEASURE FOR KEEPING PEACEFUL
ATMOSPHERE AT MU CAMPUS IN FUTURE
(I) All Contract work pertaiing to construction or repair work or supply work of the Manipur University should be done in accordance with Rules and Regulations of the Manipur University.
(II) Students, Teachers and Staffs of the Manipur University should not involve in any contract/ supply work of the Manipur University.
(III) Any Organizations shall not be existed at Manipur University. However, grievances of the teachers, staffs and students can be made out as per Rules of the University.
(IV) All the suggestions for development of University are welcome if reasonable and the same shall be implemented within a short period."?
In addition to his aforesaid affidavit, an affidavit-in-opposition has been filed by Prof. A.P. Pandey, the respondent No.4 wherein an objection as regards the maintainability of the PIL was raised on the inter-alia grounds that no public issue was involved as the issue related to the appointment of Prof. K. Yugindro Singh, the respondent No.5 as the Pro- Vice-Chancellor and therefore, the same could not have been entertained by this Court. Moreover, the subject matter involved herein did not fall within the categories as provided in Appendix-28 of the Gauhati High Court Rules. In his affidavit, certain challenging works, alleged to have been done by him for the welfare of the students and teachers of the Manipur University which he undertook during the period of his administration, were also highlighted and the same, in short, are as under:
(a) A peaceful settlement was worked out in respect of the issue relating to reservation by adopting the amended central admission reservation norms and in particular, the UGC press release dated 19-10-2017;
(b) A seniority list of the employees, for the first time, was prepared and maintained in Manipur University;
(c) As many as eighty first ordinances were prepared which were approved by the Executive Council on 24-04-2017 and subsequently, by the Central Government;
(d) Ph.D. Ordinance, 2017 was prepared, for the first time in Manipur Manipur, as per the guidelines contained in the UGC Regulations, 2016;
(e) Draft ordinance/ regulation as regards the affiliation of colleges and courses of study was prepared under his supervision;
(f) Pursuant to the guidelines contained in the UGC Regulations, 2016, four templates for recruitment and promotion of faculty staff, were prepared;
(g) On priority basis, all incomplete buildings were completed and out of forty-five, only five buildings remained incomplete;
(h) New departments including Department of Yoga, Department of Music; Department of Teacher education etc., were opened after having obtained successfully sanctioned posts;
(i) 2nd day East Zone Vice-Chancellor'smeet was hosted in November, 17 to 18, 2018 and 105th Indian Science Congress was organized during March, 16-20, 2018;
(j) 17 Smart Classes were installed for the first time in Manipur University;
(k) In order to expedite in declaring the examination results, barcoded answer scripts were introduced;
(l) The petitioner could ensure smooth flow of fund from the UGC for maintenance and various development works of the University;
(m) The petitioner initiated process for filling up of the statutory posts like Registrar, Controller of Examination, Librarian, Curator etc, on regular basis.
It has further been stated by him that in spite of the remarkable works done by him as aforesaid for the welfare and the development of the Manipur University, the agitation was launched on false allegations which are, in short, as under:
(a) The respondent No.4 declined to pay Rs.5 crore as demanded by an unlawful organization, rather lodged a complaint to the police on 14-02-2018;
(b) The representation dated 19-05-2018 submitted by the MUSU for sanctioning certain amount for publication of annual magazine was referred to the Purchase Committee, which annoyed the MUSU;
(c) Some of the teachers are not happy with the publication of seniority lists of the faculty and the teachers;
(d) The teachers and the students are not allowed to get themselves involved in contract works or arranging programme, seminar etc.;
(e) Refusal by the respondent No.4 to the approach of some staff to stop CBI enquiry;
(f) The demand made by the respondent No.4 for the Departments to submit annual reports on their performance so that Manipur University could be included in the all India ranking;
(g) A conspiracy hatched by some members of the MUSU and the vested interest of some teachers and staff of the Manipur University for his removal.
3.5 In the affidavit on behalf of the Manipur University Students"? Union (hereinafter referred to as "the MUSU"?), it has been stated that it is a body of students having about 4000 members. The respondent No.4, Prof. A.P. Pandey who was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University, assumed charge on 26-10-2016 and from the day he assumed his charge, the Manipur University had been witnessing several crisis because of mismanagement in academic and administrative fields. As a consequence thereof, the MUSU was compelled to launch the agitation for a total shutdown of the Manipur University since 30-05-2018. As the administration of Prof. A.P. Pandey became bad to worst, the Manipur University Teachers"? Association (hereinafter referred to as "the MUTA"?) and the Manipur University Staffs"? Association (hereinafter referred to as "the MUSA"?) joined the agitation. The problem in Manipur University, ultimately, became a problem of the society, because of which many other civil organizations supported the agitation and demanded for removal of Prof. A.P. Pandey. A fact finding Committee was constituted vide order dated 17-07-2018 issued by the Under Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, Government of India (hereafter referred to as "the MHRD"?) and leave for 30 (thirty) days w.e.f. 02-08-2018 was granted to him. In a joint sitting amongst the representatives of MUSU, MUTA, MUSA on the one side and Shri G.C.Hosur, Joint Secretary, MHRD, Government of India and the Commissioner (Hr. and Tech. Edn.), Government of Manipur in the presence of the Hon"?ble Chief Minister, Manipur on the other, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by them on 16-08-2018 and consequently, the Under Secretary, MHRD issued an order dated 17-08-2018 constituting a two member Enquiry Committee to enquire into the allegations made against Prof. A. K. Pandey, the Vice-Chancellor. The Registrar 1/c, Manipur University issued an office memorandum dated 21-08-2018 thereby approving the said memorandum of agreement which was issued with the approval of the MHRD. On 03-09-2018 the Registrar i/c issued another order extending the leave of Prof. A.P. Pandey w.e.f 01-09-2018 until the completion of the enquiry proceedings against him. While Prof. A.P. Pandey was on leave, the functions of the Manipur University were restored to its normalcy such as declaration of the undeclared examination results, resumption of classes etc. In the meantime, Prof. A.P. Pandey claimed to have resumed his duties as the Vice-Chancellor of the Manipur University with effect from 01-09-2018 and issued an order dated 10-09-2018 appointing Prof. K. Yugindro Singh as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor without any authority under the provisions of the Manipur University Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act, 2005"?) read with the Statute (4) and the UGC Regulation, 2018. When Prof. K. Yugindro Singh made an attempt to enter into the Manipur University as the Vice-Chancellor i/c, a commotion took place for which he lodged a complaint with the police with false and malicious allegations against the professors and the students who were arrested and detained in jail. In terms of the Statute (4), the Pro-Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Executive Council on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor. In the absence of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the senior most professor shall perform the duties of the Vice-Chancellor if the post of Vice-Chancellor becomes vacant for the reasons mentioned in the statute. Moreover, as per the seniority list of faculty members published on 01-04-2017, Prof. K. Yugindro Singh was not the senior most but his name was placed at serial No.15 thereof. The name of Prof. K. Yugindro Singh was chosen so that Prof. A.P. Pandey could continue to abuse the administration of the Manipur University through him. The integrity of Prof. K. Yugundro Singh was questionable for the reason that he even went to the extent of lodging FIR and got some of the students and teachers arrested by the police. He wrote a letter dated 03-10-2018 to the MHRD branding the students and teachers to be involved in terrorist activities inside the campus of the Manipur University. Even the high dignitaries including the Hon"?ble Governor, Manipur and the Hon"?ble Chief Minister, Manipur were not spared from such allegations which prompted the Secretary to the Hon"?ble Governor, Manipur to write a letter dated 06-10-2018 reacting against his attitude. Prof. K. Yugindro Singh vide his letter dated 08-10-2018 had to tender his apology stating that his irresponsible allegation was due to mental stress. The appointment of Prof. K. Yugindro Singh was not in public interest at all and the invocation of this court"?s jurisdiction was to issue a writ of quo-warranto to prohibit his continuation in the office.
3.6 The MUTA filed an affidavit and since the averments made therein are identical with that of the MUSU, the same are not repeated here for the sake of brevity and in addition thereto, it has been stated therein that the Manipur University under the tenure of Prof. A.P. Pandey as the Vice-Chancellor brought severe academic and administrative crisis which was attributable to his conduct and habit and moreover, for his misconduct and misadventure, the students community had to face the brunt and suffer irretrievable loss. The appointment of Prof. K. Yugindro Singh in contravention of the Statute aggravated the problem in Manipur University. In order to bring justice to the people, this Court was approached by the public spirited persons invoking the jurisdiction of this court to prohibit the continuation of Prof. K. Yugindro Singh in the office as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor. The stand taken by the MUSA in its affidavit, is similar to that of the MUSU and MUTA and therefore, the same is not repeated here for the sake of brevity. ;