J&K Universities Bill aims to bring more transparency, accountability
By: Muhammad Adnan
Srinagar: A new legislative framework that aims to govern the functioning of public universities across Jammu and Kashmir aims to bring more transparency, accountability and limit the financial powers of the Vice Chancellors, details of the new bill reveal.
‘The Jammu and Kashmir Public Universities Act-2022’ which was recently cleared by the J&K Administrative Council headed by LG Manoj Sinha puts in place new regulatory mechanisms to oversee functioning of universities where Vice Chancellors would until now literally call the shots.
The new Act would replace all previous legislations governing the respective universities and now entails upon all universities established and regulated under the Act to refer “all Open and Direct posts of officer cadre and all teachers and equivalent positions in their universities to the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (JKPSC) for an all India advertisement and screening”. These appointments would earlier be undertaken by the respective universities with Vice Chancellors heading the selection committees.
The new Act says the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission shall conduct a screening process in the following manner for all applicants/candidates except those applying for the posts of Professor and equivalent positions. This screening process would be undertaken by the respective recruitment divisions of the universities mostly overseen by the Vice Chancellors themselves.
“No appointment at any level in the University shall be affected unless it has been transparently advertised and reasonable and adequate opportunity given to all Indian citizens irrespective of caste, creed, region, or religion to participate, subject to eligibility criterion and any short listing processes, to participate in the selection process.,” the J&K Universities Bill-2022 reads.
The additional overseeing mechanism for public universities will now include the establishment of the Jammu and Kashmir Higher Education Council as an advisory body for higher education in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be headed by the Chancellor. This mechanism was nowhere in the picture in the previous Act.
According to academicians who have analysed the new Act, the Vice Chancellors will no longer have any direct financial powers. In fact, they said, the Vice Chancellor will be the co-chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee while the Administrative Secretary, Finance Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, nominated by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, shall be the ex-officio Financial Adviser to the University.
“The Financial Adviser shall exercise general supervision over the funds of each University and shall advise it as regards its financial policy. The Financial Advisor shall be an ex-officio member of the Governing Council and the Chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee of the University,” the Act reads.
The new Act has debarred Vice Chancellors from appointment of Registrars, saying the Government shall nominate any serving officer of the administrative services or any eligible serving civil servant of appropriate seniority, to act as the Registrar on a deputation basis on such terms and conditions as prescribed. This implies that the Registrar of a University shall no longer be from within the universities, as would be the case earlier, and shall now be deputed by the Government itself.
The Registrar so deputed by the Government, the Act further says, shall have the power to seek information in regard to any matter of the University, from the Deans, Finance and Accounts Officer, and any other officer of the University for submission to the Government and other external agencies.
Besides the Registrar, the Act says there shall be a Finance Officer for the University, who shall be appointed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir on a deputation basis and shall exercise general supervision over the funds of the University and advise the Vice-Chancellor as regards the finances of the University.