New Delhi: Delhi University, the largest central university by student strength and a participant in the government’s exclusive Institutions of Eminence programme, has been operating for nearly a year with three of its top four posts vacant.
The three crucial positions that follow the Vice-Chancellor in hierarchy — pro-vice-chancellor, director South Campus, and dean of colleges — have not had dedicated incumbents for as many as four years, ThePrint has learnt through official Delhi University documents.
Instead, they have been held by officials who juggle these posts with other roles.
The university does not even have a permanent registrar. The incumbent is an acting registrar, whose tenure will end 31 March, according to a notification on the university’s official website.
Members of the faculty and DU Executive Council, the university’s top decision-making body, say the vacancies are taking a toll on its functioning, affecting a number of things from promotions to pensions.
However, Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Yogesh Tyagi was dismissive about the vacancies. “Some posts might be vacant and some are filled… anyway they are all co-terminous positions, so one person handles more than one role (sic),” he told ThePrint.
Co-terminous implies the duration of these posts would coincide with that of the V-C.
Asked about allegations that the vacancies were leading to a delay in promotions and pensions, he denied them. “Most of the work is happening and people are getting pensions, if there are any individual cases, the finance department must be better informed about them.”
With more than 70 constituent colleges and various departments, the university is divided into two campuses — North and South — that are overseen by individual heads.
The posts lying vacant come with a packed profile and ideally require full-time incumbents, people privy to the university’s functioning say.
The pro-vice-chancellor handles duties and functions assigned to them by the V-C, whom they also assist in academic and administrative matters. In the V-C’s absence, the pro-vice-chancellor performs their role.
The dean of colleges looks after North Campus colleges, while the South Campus director oversees the constituent colleges.
The registrar is the custodian of records and is tasked with issuing notices convening meetings of different university bodies.
According to official documents, there have been no dedicated incumbents for the posts of pro-vice-chancellor, dean of colleges and director of South Campus for the last four years, with one person serving at least two to three roles at once.
Soon after Tyagi took over as vice-chancellor in March 2016, he appointed Professor Jatin Kumar Khurana as pro-vice-chancellor. A few months into the role, Khurana was asked to handle the role of South Campus director as well.
Around the same time as Khurana’s appointment as pro-vice-chancellor, Professor Devesh Sinha was appointed dean of colleges but he resigned soon afterwards, and this charge was also given to Khurana. Professor Khurana handled the three posts until he retired in 2019.
ThePrint approached Sinha through a phone call to ask why he had resigned but he refused to answer.
Currently, Dean of Applied Sciences Professor Suman Kundu has been given additional charge as pro-vice-chancellor, director of South Campus and dean of colleges. These roles, however, don’t seem to be in a permanent capacity as the university website shows the posts as vacant.
Faculty members and other senior university officials have questioned the vacancies and called the V-C’s style of functioning “arbitrary”, saying it was “paralysing” the university.
“How can you do justice to such important roles when just one person is handling three positions? It is a big university and it needs that kind of administrative guidance,” said Professor J.L. Gupta, a retired DU professor and member of the executive council.
“The V-C’s decision of not making appointments in these posts is not justifiable. These decisions are demoralising and are paralysing the functioning of university.”
Rajesh Jha, another member of the executive council, said the university had been in a “state of limbo… ever since the new V-C has taken over”.
“Pensions are stuck, ad hoc teachers have been fighting for absorption. There is no one to listen to the teachers, as most of the administrative posts are vacant,” Jha added. “A university as big as DU does not even have a permanent registrar… We have taken up these issues with the V-C a number of times, but to no avail.”
Jha said the V-C was acting in an arbitrary manner “without listening to anyone else”.
“…everything remains stuck, be it pensions or appointments or even approval for things like library funds,” a faculty member at the university said.
The vacancies have emerged at a time when the university sets its sights on global excellence as part of the Modi government’s Institutions of Eminence (IoE) scheme.
According to a plan submitted by DU to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development earlier this month, it proposes to establish nine centres for subjects such as climate change and public health in its quest to be an IoE.