The University of Mumbai has reinstated economics professor Neeraj Hatekar, who was suspended by vice chancellor Rajan Welukar for holding a press conference to expose the irregularities on the campus.
The management council has directed the VC to revoke the suspension considering huge public demand and the welfare of students. A departmental inquiry by a retired high court judge has also been ordered against Hatekar. Retired HC judge DG Deshpande will probe Hatekar’s conduct and the issues raised by him.
The decision was taken after a 10-hour long meeting of the management council on Saturday night.
A press release issued by the university said,“None of the 16 charges levelled by Hatekar bears any fact. However, for the welfare of the students and also considering the public sentiments, the management council recommended that his suspension be revoked.”
Interestingly, the management council members, who had given a go-ahead to initiate action against Hatekar in their December 20 meeting, “unanimously” agreed on Jan19 to revert the decision. The management council was presented with a report of the one-member fact-finding committee which stated that all 16 charges levelled by Hatekar bear no fact.
The VC had used “special powers” to suspend Hatekar after seeking approval from the management council under Section 14 (9) of Maharashtra University Act 1994 without following the due procedure. The suspension letter accused Hatekar of bringing disrepute to the varsity and of “moral turpitude”.
The suspension triggered huge protests by students, teachers and the scholars’ community across the country, denting the varsity’s image. Hatekar himself challenged the varsity’s decision in the Bombay high court, citing it “illegal” as the varsity neither issued a show-cause notice nor conducted any inquiry before suspending him.
Welukar budged in only when Governor called him at Raj Bhawan on Thursday asking him to sort out the matter amicably at the earliest.
Students to continue protest
Soon after the decision, students said they will organise a victory march in Kalina campus on Monday. However, they will continue the protest to mount pressure on authorities to address the issues raised by Hatekar. Savita Kulkarni, convenor of Save MU, said, “The issues which Hatekar sir raised, including appointment of ineligible people in various bodies, has led to the decline of quality of education. We would not rest until those issues are addressed.”