Reiterating that his affiliation with the Aam Aadmi Party was a clear case of conflict of interest, the Human Resource Development ministry Wednesday sacked Prof Yogendra Yadav from the University Grants Commission.
Joining a political party “substantially altered” Prof Yadav’s credentials, therefore, his presence in the UGC may set a “dangerous precedent” and “provide scope for further politicisation of UGC and its academic decision making”, the ministry argued.
“The commission, implying commission members, has to logically be apolitical while discharging its regulatory functions. Any iota of political influence may vitiate the sacrosanct academic exercise of UGC’s decision making,” said the ministry’s order, which immediately “retired” Prof Yadav under the UGC Disqualification, Retirement and conditions of Service of Members Rules, 1992. “He has acknowledged such conflict of interest when he emailed Department of School Education and Literacy resigning from advisory committees,” said the order accessed by The Indian Express.
The ministry has rebutted Prof Yadav’s response to a show cause notice issued to him on September 4. Prof Yadav had argued that removing 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 also pointed out that the ministry had told him his association with a political party would not affect his UGC membership.
The ministry, however, has contended that he was appointed on the basis of his then credentials as a “non-political academic”. And “all established rules and regulations underline that the UGC should not merely be non-political but rigidly protected from political or personal lobbying and pressure”. As for his communication with the ministry, it was oral and “there is no record of such a conversation in the records of the government”.
To Prof Yadav’s charge that the move was motivated as it was taken long after he joined the AAP, the ministry said delay can’t be a ground for non-action. The ministry dismisses Yadav’s contention that he was not asked to fill in any proforma on joining the UGC, saying that “information on becoming an office-bearer of a party is a matter of propriety reasonably expected from a person of eminence functioning as a member of UGC”.
Reacting to his sacking, Prof Yadav said the decision was against UGC rules and might set a precedent to throw out members of statutory bodies who raise inconvenient issues. “I am well aware of the games governments