Mahatma Gandhi University which has locked horns with the State government over withholding grant-in-aid to the former on Tuesday hit back saying that the government had no power to impose unreasonable and unconscionable conditions on self-governing autonomous educational institutions such as the Mahatma Gandhi University.
In an affidavit filed by Meharunnisa Beegum, Joint Registrar (Administration), Mahatma Gandhi University in the Kerala High Court, it has been pointed out that the grant- in-aid was provided out of the State budget.
The government had no power to withhold, cancel or postpone any payment without assigning valid reasons. In fact, the commitment on the part of the government to contribute a specific amount as block grant for every month out of the State budget allocation could not be negated. The Chief Secretary had warned the university of fixing responsibility of financial liability on the authorities or officers of the university for issuing order creating temporary posts. Instead of taking such an action, the government had chosen to take drastic measures by way of withholding the grant. The stand of the government that non-disbursement of grant-in-aid would not affect the functions of the university was without any rational basis.
Unless the grant was released for August and succeeding months, the university would be hard-pressed, leading to winding up of many of its many programmes.
The affidavit was filed in response to a writ petition filed by Mahatma Gandhi University Employees Association and others challenging the government decision to withhold the grant to the university. The petitioner alleged that the government had earlier directed the university to rescind the creation of 56 new posts and temporary appointments. However, the Vice- Chancellor refused to toe the government line, leading to the order to hold over the grant, the petitioner said.
The government in its statement had said that it was not legally obliged to disburse grant-in-aid to universities if they failed to comply with the conditions attached to the grant-in-aid. The release of the grant was a matter governed by the relevant rule and instructions. The administrative department refused to countersign the grant-in-aid bill given by the university for the month of August 2013 due to violation of mandatory requirement of adherence to economy orders, government had said.
No legal obligation
Referring to a contention, the government said that it was not under any legal obligation to pay the salary of the university employees by releasing the grant-in-aid. In fact, the grant-in-aid was not meant for paying salaries of the university staff.
The university being an autonomous institution should have its own source of income to pay salaries and meeting other expenses.