The High Court verdict on the appointment of vice chancellor for Dhaka University bears much significance. The verdict establishes that only a legitimate senate can appoint a legitimate vice chancellor. Yet it is hard to recall when, in the political history of Dhaka University, a full-fledged senate was legitimately formed. The integrity, honour and the heritage of the country’s highest seat of learning, known as the font of democracy, is fast fading.
We hope that the stakeholders consider the 10 October verdict of the High Court Division as an eye-opener. It declared unlawful the three-member panel including former VC AAMS Arefin Siddique which was formed at a special meeting of the senate on 29 July. It is now imperative to elect a new panel.
The Dhaka University ordinance prevents anyone from becoming the vice chancellor for more than two terms. Despite that, certain teachers backed by a particular political party, and backed by the administration, are resorting to dubious means for the election of teachers’ representatives in the senate. They are busy scuffling over the appointment of a VC of a particular party’s ilk, but are not bothered about any students’ union. Yet student representation in the senate is imperative.
Participation of all representatives is the basis of the university’s autonomy. Yet the students and democratic forces note with anger and regret free and fair election of the student unions in all public university’s of the country has long been held up. As for the inclusion of other representatives in the senate, the legalities may have been followed in a perfunctory manner, but the spirit is missing. The last election of teachers’ representatives was nothing but a farce. The participants did not question the legality of overlooking student representation. The 15 registered graduates who filed a writ petition in this regard, said that the senate cannot be formed without the representation of registered graduates.
Will the nation be able to see a credible VC panel with effective participation of all stakeholders of the senate in keeping with the verdict, within the next six months? It is hoped that a VC elected through the new VC panel elections will have the opportunity to take office. There is no need to extend the tenure of the acting VC any longer than necessary.