Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday recalled its order for arrest of the State Higher Education Secretary Mangat Ram Sharma after he appeared before the judge and tendered unconditional apology for his absence at the Monday hearing of a contempt case against the Bharatiyar University.
Recording Sharma's affidavit offering unconditional apology and also explaining the circumstances causing his absence on Monday, Justice N Kirubakaran said, “In view of the unconditional apology tendered and also considering the reasons stated in the affidavit, the order dated January 7 is recalled. Further appearance of the officer is dispensed with”.
The judge had issued the arrest order against the officer on Monday as he was upset that the senior officer had kept away from a serious matter pertaining to his department, such as contempt of court, despite being served the notice to appear on December 15 (2018) itself. “This Court has every reason to believe that he had deliberately avoided appearance before this Court”, said the learned judge while directing the registry to issue a warrant ordering the Chennai Police Commissioner to arrest and produce the official before the court by January 9.
The issue pertained to a contempt petition filed by the Association of Self-Financing Arts Colleges against the Bharatiyar University for granting affiliations to franchise 'Study Centres' to conduct distance education for the academic year 2016-17. The University's Syndicate had been summoned in this case and all the members made appearance in the court on Monday, except Mangat Ram Sharma, who was reportedly away at Vellore attending the syndicate meeting of Thiruvalluvar University.
In his order on Tuesday, Justice Kirubakaran said the Syndicate of the Bharathiyar University had passed a resolution in respect of an agenda permitting the Study Centres to admit students for the academic year 2018-2019 on November 28, 2018 i.e., in the middle of the academic year, which meant simultaneously, admissions are made and students are permitted to write the examination without even attending the classes. The court had therefore in order dated December 4, 2018 stayed the operation of the resolution dated November 28 passed by the University approving the agenda. “This court would like to know whether any admissions have been made by any of the study centres, in spite of the order passed by this court on December 4, 2018 as it would also amount to contempt committed, not only by the University but also by the Study Centres. Therefore, details regarding the same have to be furnished on the next hearing date”, the judge added.
The judge said it was not known as to whether the Syndicate meeting was only a formality or the members discuss and take a decision. Therefore, this court would like to know what kind of discussions take place during a Syndicate meeting and the proceedings of the Syndicate meeting was directed to be placed before this court in a sealed cover on the next hearing date so that this court would be in a position to understand whether seriously, the Syndicate was functioning and decisions were taken after discussions and deliberations, the judge added.
The judge said it was also evident from the records that Study Centres have been functioning contrary to UGC Regulations/proceedings issued during 2010 and 2016. The University has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the study centres contrary to UGC Regulations. Universities were governed by UGC Regulations as it was an expert body. Therefore, the UGC, represented by its chairman/Director, New Delhi, was suo motu impleaded as respondent to the contempt petition, only as a formal party, so that the counsel for UGC would be in a position to assist the court, the judge added and posted to January 25, further hearing of the case.