UGC blamed for lack of vision in handling matters

Prof. R. Vigneswaran yesterday charged that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had flouted proper procedure in removing him from the post of Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Jaffna University in April this year.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Prof. Vigneswaran said the UGC had not conducted an inquiry or given him an explanation for his removal. “If they (UGC) received any complaints against me, they should have first conducted an inquiry, interdicted me and issued a charge sheet,” he said.

Prof. Vigneswaran was dismissed as Jaffna University VC by a letter dated April 30, 2019, which said the President had acted after consulting the UGC as per Section 34 of the Universities Act. No further explanation was given.

He added that his case should have been discussed at the UGC before being forwarded to the President. “I should be aware of what complaints have been levelled against me, or the reasons for my removal,” he added.

The Professor has filed a fundamental Rights (FR) case in the Supreme Court (SC) challenging his removal, citing UGC Chairman Prof. Mohan de Silva as a respondent.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem had reportedly informed the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) that Prof. Vigneswaran was removed on confidential evidence based on national security.

Similarly, Prof. Sarath Chandrajeewa was removed as VC of the University of Visual and Performing Arts (UVPA) in a letter dated September 18.

In response, Prof. Chandrajeewa issued a counter-letter stating that he had not attributed any reasons for his removal and that this went against all “ethics and natural justice”.

He added that even for lower-grade employees, the reasons for removal from a position are given in a charge sheet and an inquiry is held.

The Association of Professionals for High-Quality Higher Education also released a statement condemning Prof. Chandrajeewa’s removal as “unjustifiable, irrational and unconstitutional”.

Many international academics also publicly condemned his removal, and an online petition calling for his reinstatement is in circulation. (Muqaddasa Wahid)

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