On November 28, 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General submitted its report on the implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). According to the report most of the projects initiated under JNNURM have not been completed. For instance with respect to urban infrastructure projects, only 231 projects out of the 1298 sanctioned projects have been completed. Similarly, with respect to housing projects, only 22 of the 1517 projects have been completed. Some of the other key recommendations of the report are:
The need and objectives of JNNURM According to the 2011 census India’s urban population has increased from 286 million in 2001 to 377 million in 2011 . With the increase in urban population, there is a requirement to improve the urban infrastructure and improve the service delivery mechanisms. With these specific objectives in mind, the central government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission 2005-2006. The aim of the Mission is to encourage reforms and fast track planned development of identified cities (such as cities with a population of more than 1 million as per the 2001 census). JNNURM has two main components namely : (i) Urban Infrastructure and Governance and (ii) Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns. The duration of JNNURM was from 2005-06 to 2011-12. However, as the projects have not been completed the Government has extended its duration until March 2014. Funds for JNNURM The funds for JNNURM are provided through the Additional Central Assistance. This implies that the funds are provided as grants to the states directly from the centre. In the 2012 Union Budget, the central government has allocated Rs 12,522 crore for JNNURM. This represents around 10 % of the total central assistance through the different schemes to states and union territories in 2012-13. As on June 30 2012, 554 projects at a total cost of Rs 62,253 crore have been sanctioned under the Urban Infrastructure and Governance sub-mission of JNNURM. The table below shows the status of the sanctioned JNNURM projects in the different states. State wise status of the projects under JNNURM (as on August 6, 2012)
|Name of State||Total Allocation (Rs Lakh)||Number of sanctioned projects||Completed Projects|
|Jammu & Kashmir||48,836||5||NA|
Source: Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission; PRS.
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.