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CAN VICE-PRESIDENT BE CHANCELLOR OF PANJAB UNIVERSITY?
ARTICLE 64 OF CONSTITUTION SAYS: VICE-PRESIDENT SHALL NOT HOLD ANY OFFICE OF PROFIT APART FROM BEING EX-OFFICIO CHAIRMAN OF RAJYA SABHA
For many years rather decades, the Vice-President of India (VPI) is the ex-officio Chancellor of coveted Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh. Apart from PU, the VPI also holds Chancellorship of certain other Central varsities across the country. But now an interesting but significant question has been raised if he can legally (read constitutionally) hold that post ?
I have filed a RTI plea with Vice President of India Secretariat seeking complete information quoting Article 64 of Constitution of India which clearly stipulates that the Vice-President shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States and shall not hold any other office of profit.
There is no statutory sanctity to Vice-President of India being Chancellor of PU since Section 9 of Panjab University Act, 1947 mentions that the Chancellor of the University shall be appointed by the Central Government by Notification in the Gazette of India. The Advocate is unable to trace the ibid requisite Notification as issued by the Centre appointing (or designating) the Vice-President of India as Chancellor of PU.
Since there is no explicit and comprehensive law on Office of Profit in our country, hence this term continues to be vague till date. Of course there have been various judicial pronouncements on the subject delivered by various High Courts and Supreme Court of India from time to time but nevertheless the grey area remains.
As far as Members of Parliament (MPs) are concerned, it is specifically provided in Article 102(1)(a) of Constitution of India that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as and for being a member of either House of Parliament if he holds any Office of Profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder.
In pursuance of the above, a law viz. Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 has been enacted by Parliament which has been amended several times in last six decades and which specifies explicit names and designations of certain offices both under the Government of India as well as Government of different States in the country holding of whom by MPs would not disqualify them as Members of Parliament.
However, since Vice-President of India is not a member of either House of Parliament, hence apart from Rajya Sabha Chairperson, any other Office of Profit, if held by him, cannot be exempted by Parliament by law by including the same in the abovementioned 1959 Act, Even otherwise, Parliament cannot do so by enacting any other Act since Article 64 does not permits it to do so.
Be that as it may, one more interesting point that as far as Article 52 relating to President of India and Article 153 pertaining to Governor of State is concerned, there is no mention in any of the ibid Article that both these constitutional functionaries cannot hold any (other) Office of Profit apart from being President or Governor, as the case may be.
Pertinent that under Central Universities Act, 2009 the President is the Visitor of all Universities established under the ibid Act in the country as well as certain other Universities established by Parliament under separate enactments across the country. As far as Governor of a State is concerned, he is ex-officio Chancellor of all State (Government) Universities in the State established by various laws enacted by concerned State Legislature apart from being Visitor as regards all Private Universities established in the State.