Saurashtra University (SU), one of the largest universities in Gujarat in terms of number of enrolled students, has been without a regular registrar for more than 12 years. The SU was finally shortlisted for the position in June of last year after nine years of delay, but its selection is still pending state government approval.
The varsity, which has its main campus in Rajkot, has about three lakh students enrolled, making it one of the biggest state-funded universities. It is in charge of the districts of Rajkot, Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, and Amreli. The SU also made history in 2014 when it became the first Gujarati university to receive an A rating from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
However, the university hasn’t had a regular registrar since Gajendra Jani was removed from the post on June 21, 2011, following a Gujarat High Court order that ruled that Jani didn’t meet the eligibility criteria for the post. Jani had assumed charge in May 2007 but his selection and subsequent appointment was challenged in the High Court on the grounds that he didn’t have the required qualification to hold the post.
Since Jani’s removal, the university has had six individuals serving as in-charge registrars for a total of nine terms: JM Mamtora, Ramesh Parmar, Dhiren Pandya, Jatin Soni, Nilesh Soni, and Amit Parekh.
Among them, Jatin Soni, who retired as the director of physical education at SU, and Mamtora, the former controller of examination (COE), each served for a single term of 16 days and a year, respectively. For three terms (August 2011 to October 2014; July 23, 2015, to August 9, 2015; and December 2018, to June 2020), Parmar, a deputy registrar, held the position of in-charge registrar. Pandya, a deputy registrar who had been elevated to the position of academic officer, held the position of in-charge registrar twice (from October 2014 to July 2015 and from August 2015 to December 2018).
Nilesh Soni, who was the librarian of the SU, was appointed in-charge registrar in July 2021, and he held that post till February 4, 2022. Parekh, a deputy registrar, was appointed in-charge registrar on February 4, 2022, and continues to hold the post till date.
Records accessed by a well known news agency show that SU initiated the process for recruiting registrars thrice during these years but has failed to get a regular officer so far. The varsity had advertised the vacancy in July 2013 and again in August 2015 but no candidates were called for personal interviews. The SU issued a third employment notice on June 27, 2019, after a direction from the state education department following instructions from the then chief minister of Gujarat to fill up posts of registrars in 15 state-run universities.
The direction from the Chief Minister had come after a meeting with vice-chancellors and registrars or in-charge registrars of these universities on June 18, 2019, records show.
In response to the SU’s latest advertisement, 25 candidates applied for the post, including Gitesh Joshi, a deputy registrar with SU who has served as registrar at Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, and Govind Guru University, Godhra, among others. Other applicants included deputy registrar Parmar, Harish Ruparelia, the municipal secretary of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), and Arvindkumar Dhaduk, then in-charge registrar of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat. An SU scrutiny committee meeting held on January 9, 2020, concluded that nine out of the 25 applicants met the eligibility criteria.