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Paramjit Jaswal ends 9-yr term at RGNUL, joins SRM as VC • Search is on but interim VC controversial

Notification of Jaswal departure and interim replacement
Notification of Jaswal departure and interim replacement

RGNUL Patiala vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Paramjit Jaswal has ended his tenure of more than nine years today as a search process is ongoing for his permanent replacement.

Jaswal has confirmed to us that he has joined SRM University in Sonepat as vice-chancellor (VC) of the entire university, which offers engineering, management, medicine, law and other science and humanities degrees, including PhDs.

It launched in Sonepat, Haryana in 2013, and in Sikkim in 2014, with its precursor SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, having been deemed a university in 2002.

His tenure at RGNUL was to end on 6 February 2021.

The interim replacement not without controversy

At RGNUL, he has been replaced in the interim by the most senior professor currently at the national law school, Prof Anand Pawar.

Pawar, however, also already holds a number of senior positions: he is RGNUL’s dean of student welfare and controller of exams, which one student told us was not ideal, in terms of separation of administrative powers.

There is also potential controversy over a sexual harassment complaint having been filed against Pawar in 2018 by an RGNUL faculty member, which we have confirmed from two sources in the know.

The faculty member had approached the Punjab & Haryana high court in January 2019 to ensure constitution of the RGNUL internal complaints committee (ICC) in accordance with University Grants Commission (UGC) norms.

It is understood that the RGNUL ICC complaint is still pending and remains to be fully heard.

We have reached out to Pawar for comment.

We understand choices for the post may have been limited, since the VC position has to be occupied by a professor and apart from Jaswal, there was only the interim registrar Prof Naresh Kumar Vats.

And since the registrar and VC position can’t be occupied by the same person either, Pawar may have been the only available choice, other than potentially drafting in a judge or administrative officer as acting VC from outside.

The search for a permanent VC is on

As first reported by The Tribune last month, a search committee has been seeking a new permanent VC.

Nalsar Hyderabad vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Faizan Mustafa has been nominated by the RGNUL executive council to head up the search committee, with two other nominations of members to be made by the chairman of the UGC and the RGNUL chancellor.

9 years at RGNUL

Jaswal had taken over as VC at RGNUL after joining from HNLU Raipur in 2011.

While at RGNUL, students had repeatedly butted heads with Jaswal.

This included student protests, the removal of a controversial administrative officer (and the apparent stonewalling of attempts by students to obtain a related formal inquiry report) and more recently also questions about RGNUL's finances, which the state government has also pursued.

In particular, we understand that the state government has been aggrieved that it has been funding RGNUL - which according to a student therefore enjoys good infrastructure and facilities - but that RGNUL also had Rs 48 crore sitting unutilised in a fixed deposit account.

However, Punjab state’s accountant general audit of RGNUL’s finances has settled all substantial paragraphs regarding the use of state funds at RGNUL from 2006 until 2018 (see audit reports below).

RGNUL under Jaswal has also begun posting minutes of its governing bodies on its website from mid-2019 (though it has still not published its full financial documents online).

2020 audit report
2020 audit report

2019 audit report
2019 audit report

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