Activist Yogendra Yadav was on Wednesday sacked from the UGC for being a member of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party as the government said his association with the apex body of higher education may give a scope for its "future politicisation".
He was served a show cause notice on September 4 by the HRD Ministry citing conflict of interest "as his antecedents and credentials at the time of his appointment in 2011 and now stand substantially altered".
In its order, the Ministry said, "The central government in pursuance of powers vested under Rule 6 of UGC (Disqualification, Retirement and Conditions of Service of the Members) Rules 1992 hereby retires Yogendra Yadav from the post of member UGC with immediate effect."
Yadav, an officer bearer of AAP and his association with UGC as a member, having created a conflict of interest, may not only set a dangerous precedent, "it may even scope for future politicisation of UGC and its academic decision making", the order said.
Slamming the Centre, Yadav in his reply on September 10 had wondered whether the Ministry would have acted with similar "zeal" had he joined Congress.
Stating that he was not alone in holding the UGC post while being in a political outfit, Yadav referred to the Nehurvian days when Acharya Narendra Deva, a renowned scholar of Buddhism and the national president of Socialist Party, a leading opposition party of the day, was appointed the Vice Chancellor of two universities consecutively.
Dismissing Yadav's observations, the order said the example of Deva is not relevant in the present context as the UGC Act was enacted in 1956, the year in which he died.
"The UGC has made the post of VC a selection post and has laid down qualifications for that post. The selection of Deva by Nehru had happened long before these developments. Those were extraordinary times requiring exceptional measures and means. Indian democracy has traversed a long distance since then," it said.
Yadav's contention that the Ministry's action was contrary to the letter and spirit of the law, rules and regulations and the Code of Conduct that govern the membership of UGC has also been contested by the Ministry in its order.
It said that the composition of UGC as per section 5 of UGC Act provides for nomination of members who can only be either teachers or eminent academics or experts in a given discipline.
"A reading of this section provides the implicit intention of lawmakers on exclusion of politicians. The UGC members till now have been appointed on this basis only which is proved from the fact that never was a UGC member retired by any government even when the ruling party changed at the Centre from time to time," the order said.
Talking to PTI earlier, Yadav had maintained that the ministry wants to get rid of him as he was "posing obstacles in the way of what the ministry was pushing through its agenda in UGC".
He has been vocal about several policies the ministry has initiated.
"I had opposed coming up of an inter-university centre on teacher training institution in Kakinada which is the constituency of the HRD Minister," he had said.
Slamming the ministry and the UGC, he had said their policies go against the spirit of higher education be it in the matter of entry of foreign institutions from the back door or imposition of academic performance index scores in universities in a non-autonomous.
"I had opposed all these measures because they were not good for higher education in this country," he had said.