Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday sought the kind intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to prevent any change in the nature and character of the Panjab University.
“The state government vehemently opposes any such move of Government of India to examine the feasibility of converting Panjab University into a Central University” wrote the Chief Minister in a letter to Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan.
The Chief Minister apprised both the leaders that State Government will not like any change in the nature and character of the University as it has an emotional place in the hearts of the people of Punjab on account of historical, cultural and provincial reasons.
He bemoaned that from last some time, forces with certain vested interests have been trying to push the matter for change of status of Panjab University into a Central University. Bhagwant Mann reminded both the leaders that at the time of the reorganization of the State of Punjab in 1966, Panjab University was declared as an 'Inter State Body Corporate' under section 72(1) of the Punjab Reorganization Act 1966 enacted by the Parliament.
The Chief Minister said that this status was duly confirmed in several judgments passed by courts. He said that ever since its inception, the Panjab University has been continuously and uninterruptedly functioning in the State of Punjab.
Bhagwant reminded that it was shifted from Lahore, the then capital of Punjab, to Hoshiarpur and then to Chandigarh the present capital of Punjab adding that at present 175 colleges of Punjab situated in the districts of Fazilka, Ferozepur, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Moga, Sri Muktsar Sahib and S.B.S Nagar are affiliated with the Panjab University.
The Chief Minister asserted that entire territorial jurisdiction of Panjab University lies primarily in state of Panjab and Union territory of Chandigarh. He said that as per Sub-section (4) of Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966, the maintenance deficit grants to the University were to be shared and paid by the States concerned, i.e., Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UT Administration of Chandigarh in the ratio of 20:20:20:40, respectively.
However, Bhagwant Mann said that states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh decided to withdraw from this sharing arrangement adding that Government of Haryana also withdrew the affiliation of its colleges from the Panjab University.
Thus, the Chief Minister said that from 1976 onwards, the State of Punjab and UT Administration of Chandigarh have borne the financial responsibility of paying maintenance deficit grants to the University in the ratio of 40:60 respectively.
He said that despite the increased financial burden caused by withdrawal of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and the creation of new universities in the State, Punjab has continued to support Panjab University to ensure that the historical and emotional attachment of the people of Punjab with the University is maintained and preserved.
Bhagwant Mann said that Government of Punjab is presently giving Grant-in-Aid of Rs. 42 crore to the University annually besides the nearly Rs. 100 crore annually collected by the University from the affiliated colleges located in Punjab.
The Chief Minister said that Panjab University is a symbol of Punjab’s legacy and is synonymous with name of State. He said that the University caters only to the State of Punjab and its capital Chandigarh so there exists no reason to alter the character of the University into a central one.
Citing the history of the University, its constitution, its ethnic, socio-cultural and historical roots as well as its faculty and students who hail primarily from the State of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann said that it important that the present legal and administrative status of the Panjab University should be preserved by the Government of India. “Any decision to the contrary will not be acceptable to the people of Punjab”, he added.